Nathaniel Hawthorne's Use Of Ambiguity Essay

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the most prolific American Authors of the 19th century, who is remembered most prominently for his book The Scarlett Letter, but he was also a writer of a great many short stories as well. Three of these stories are “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” which is the tale of a scientist and a twisted experiment he performs on his daughter, turning her into living poison and making her live in a garden in solitude. A second is “Young Goodman Brown,” telling of Goodman Brown’s walk into a forest and the dark ritual he sees that irreparably changes his view of those living around him. Finally, there is “The Birthmark,” in which the mad scientist Aylmer creates an “antidote” to clear his wife Georgiana of a hand-shaped birthmark …show more content…

Hawthorne as a result of his Puritan ancestry was a man obsessed with morality and the nature of man, and this comes across in his work. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” “Young Goodman Brown,” and “The Birthmark” Hawthorne’s writing is characterized by his prominent use of ambiguity and symbolism as a way to express his ideas regarding morality and the actions of man. Hawthorne uses ambiguity in many ways in his stories. One of these is through the utilization of in medias res and beginning a story without giving qualification for the actions of characters, or even background on the characters themselves. In “Young Goodman Brown” the story begins with Goodman Brown saying goodbye to his wife Faith and setting off on his journey into the forest. Hawthorne does not establish the reasoning for this and allows the reader to discern for themselves an opinion on the actions of the characters, based solely on what occurs in the story. This lack of explanation creates a sense of confusion throughout all of the stories and tinges everything with unpredictability. This can be seen also in the actions of Rappaccini and Aylmer in regards to their respective scientific experiments. In both stories, Hawthorne does not

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