Nathaniel Hawthorne Beliefs

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A distinguished and respected author, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote classic American fiction in a dark romantic style that was shaped by his upbringing and surroundings. He was brought up in a strictly Puritan household in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne’s writing reflects his religious background, which he many times grapples with. This is accredited to his Puritan upbringing, as one of his ancestors “presided over the Salem witchcraft trials, 1692,” (Reuben). Hawthorne’s stories are usually “set in colonial New England [his birthplace] and is heavily weighted with the moral complexity of his Puritan background,” (American Literature). Also, as a teenager, when his uncle urged Hawthorne to attend college, Hawthorne protested saying, “I do not …show more content…

One of the most straightforward examples of Hawthorne’s thoughts on Puritan behavior can be found in “Maypole of Merry Mount.” In it, Hawthorne describes the Puritans as a cruel and ruthless bunch that actively oppresses the Merrymakers by cutting down their prized maypole, shooting the dancing bear, and punishing the settlers. This suggests a feeling of discontent in Hawthorne’s mind with Puritan ways in the past. Furthermore, Hawthorne contemplates the topic of sin in his works, many times in the form of symbol or allegory, as “symbols play important roles in all of his important short stories,” (Canada). In “The Minister’s Black Veil,” for example, Hawthorne describes a reverend shunned by the townspeople because of a simple veil, showing how shallow and hypocritical they are, and who themselves are shrouded by a symbolic veil, blinded to their own sins while speculating the sin of the minister. For instance, when Hooper attends the funeral, the people gossip that the dead woman shuddered at his sight. While obviously a hoax, the people must think that Hooper’s sins are so substantial that even the dead recognize it. Meanwhile, they don’t know the real reason he wears the veil, and they also forget to remember their own sins. In this way, Hawthorne speculates the man’s conflict with sin using allegory. By the same token, in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” the devil leads Brown to believe that “evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be [his] only happiness,” (Page #). An obvious theme in this story is the hypocrisy of Puritanism, which is evident as an allegory through Brown’s wife, Faith. She is considered a pure, religious, and virtuous individual, but Brown is left disillusioned and sees her as an intrinsic sinner after his encounter with the devil. This leads him to doubt his religion, and the experience is similar to Hawthorne’s own life in that he lived

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