Nathaniel Hawthorne's ideas and views

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, December 1996

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the greatest Anti-Transcendentalist writers of

all time. He utilized his writings to express his dark, gloomy outlook on life.

        Hawthorne, a descendant of a puritan family, was born in Salem,

Massachusetts. Some of his ancestors included a judge known for the harsh

persecution of Quakers, and another judge who played an important role in the Salem

witchcraft trials. Hawthorne's attitude was molded by a sense of guilt, which he traced

to his ancestor's actions. After college, Hawthorne lived, secluded, for 12 years in his

mother's house. He then published Twice Told Tales which didn't sell very well, yet at

the same time, established him as a well known and respected author. He became

good friends of two Transcendentalist writers of the period -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

and Henry David Thoreau. He also taught the only other Anti-Transcendentalist writer

of his period -- Herman Melville. His most popular book, The Scarlet Letter, earned

Hawthorne international fame.

He died in his sleep while on a walking tour in New


        The period of time during which Hawthorne wrote was the New England

Renaissance in America. By the year 1840, it was clear that the American experiment

in Democracy had succeeded. England, trying again to retake their old land in 'The

Second American War for Independence', was no longer a threat to the survival of the

republic. Andrew Jackson, the first "people's president", had served 2 terms in office.

New states were entering the Union. One French observer stated that Americans

had, "a lively faith in the predictability of man", and that they, "admit that what appears

to them today to be good may be superseded by something better tomorrow."

        There were two types of writing styles during Hawthorne's life --

Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism. Many of the authors...