An Essay about the Writing Style of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Title of Paper : Nathaniel Hawthorn
Grade Received on Report : 90

Choosing an author from the list provided on the syllabus was intimidating. Edgar Allen Poe, Washington
Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne were familiar names, yet I really had no previous exposure to their famous
pieces of work. I selected Nathaniel Hawthorn, not because I appreciate his talent, but because I liked the
sound of his name. However, Hawthorne\'s writings captivated my attention, caused me to look at literature
with a different perspective and allowed me to contemplate his unique writing style.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of America\'s first literary greats. Hawthorne possessed an innate ability to
express the written word. Terence Martin writes of his early years, "Hawthorne grew up with access to
books." "Temperament and circumstance helped to form a youthful habit of reading the classics of French
literature" ( 3 ). Nathaniel Hawthorne\'s hometown of Salem, Massachusetts emerged as a background for
many of his writings. Hawthorne held a strong obsession for the behavior of the residents and historical
perspective of the Salem witch trials. Hawthorne played special attention to the Puritans of Salem.
In the book, Young Goodman Brown, he created a tale in which a young man journeys to a witch\'s
Sabbath. Hawthorne wrote, "And maddened with despair, so that he laughed loud and long, did Goodman
Brown grab his staff and set forth again at such a rate, that he seemed to fly along the forest-path, rather
than walk or run" ( 1148 Baym et al.). What a wonderful combination of words. The descriptive details of
Brown\'s excursion through a wicked forest were rich in evil content. Hawthorne possessed an incredible
ability to embrace the reader in emotions of anxiety and fear. While reading this short story, I became
totally absorbed in Hawthorns\' literary gloom. All outside distractions stopped. Hawthorne\'s talent is
After reading The May-pole of Merry Mount, I felt as though Hawthorne was trying to give us a glimpse of
the realities religion imposed during the times of the Salem Witch trials. He was interested in creating
stories that had characters struggling with these issues. "Hawthorne wrote to communicate a moralistic
message," (York, 1997). In this book, Hawthorne paints an intensely descriptive image of the two factions
in the story--the Merry Mounters and the Puritans. Some of the descriptions of their nature and behaviors
are so harsh that my mind had to pause to visually create the atmosphere that he portrayed. Hawthorn
wrote of a description of the May-Pole (1172 Baym et al.), "May, or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year
around." He created an intense picture of the Puritan leader, Endicott. Endicott seemed to struggle with the
process of holding a pure and pious disposition coupled with envy for the free expression of love that the
Merry Mounters displayed. Howeve!
r, he was the leader who had to emulate the Puritan qualities. He seemed to compromise his position by
marrying the couple. His intention was to convert their souls.
The final piece of work that I read was The Minister\'s Black Veil. I am glad that I read this story in the
latter part of my research. I felt that this was an awful piece with an exercise in futile despair. The work
somehow altered my perception of Hawthorne\'s writing style. It was as if I had listened to a song that
offensively attacked my eardrums. The story was riddled with symbolism. In today\'s world, Father Hooper
would be labeled a neurotic paranoid, void of all necessary social skills. Psychiatrists could argue that
much information could be derived from the analysis of such patients. Perhaps I am shallow because this
exploration does not interest me. I prefer stories that entertain. They can be scary, adventurous, or even
Many famous writers expressed open criticism for Hawthorne\'s work. Edgar Allen Poe wrote, "He is
infinitely too fond of allegory, and can never hope for popularity as long as he persists in it," (130 Bunge).
Nina Baym conveyed an equally derogatory opinion when she wrote, "And so, too, is Young Goodman
Brown an evil fantasy, featuring so prominently its vision of secret evil and implying so many more awful
images than it articulates" ( 141 Bunge). Many authors poured over