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An Essay about the Writing Style of Nathaniel Hawthorne

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 xpress 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 extraordinary. 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 rote 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! , 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 atter 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 eartbreaking. 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 Hawthorne’s writings in a quest to understand his writing approach. Terence Martin wrote, “The writer who once referred to himself as ‘the bscurest man of letters in America’ has weathered literary fashions in a way that would have surprised him perhaps more than anyone else” (preface, 1983).

I cannot help wondering, what conclusions did the other students find after reading Hawthorne’s work? Did they feel his sense of gloom and an obsession for exposing the hypocrisy of the church? Do I interpret the symbolism from his writings correctly? Perhaps I convey a slight sense of paranoia regarding my comprehension skills. However, I feel that this course has revealed an undiscovered perspective. I have a new admiration for literary works of art.

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