Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist and short-story writer who was a master of the allegorical and symbolic tale. He is one of the greatest fiction writers in American literature. His greatest short stories and fiction The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables are marked by a depth of psychological and moral insight seldom equaled by any American writer. This article aims to analyze the themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works from different angles. It is his religious outlook, especially the manifestation of Puritanism in his works; his relationship with transcendentalists, and his recognition and criticism of Transcendentalism; his views on feminism, and the feminist point of views that emerged in his works.
Key Words: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Puritanism; Transcendentalism; Feminism
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Biography 1
1.2 Literature Review 2
2 Puritanism and Hawthorne 5
2.1 The Origin and Development of Puritanism 5
2.2 The Reflection of Puritanism in Hawthorne’s work 7
3.1 The Background of Transcendentalism 9
3.2 The Influences of Transcendentalism on Hawthorne 10
4 Feminism in Hawthorne’s work 12
4.1 The Risen of Women 12
4.2 Hawthorne’s Pro and Anti Feminism Attitude 14
On the Themes
in Hawthorne’s Works
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. His great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was one of the three judges of the famous Salem Witch Trials in 1692. His father, also named Nathaniel, was a sea captain who died when Hawthorne was only four years old and left Hawthorne grew up with his mother, Elizabeth Clark Manning, a strong woman from a successful merchant family that had lived in New England since the seventeenth centuries. (Irvin, 118)
Later in 1821, Hawthorne entered Bowdoin College in Maine with the help of his relatives. In the school, he became friends with the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who would later become famous poet and future United States president Franklin Pierce. After graduating from college in 1824, Hawthorne returned to his hometown Salem and began writing. After completing some short stories on the trip of his traveling New England, he began to attempt to write his own novels based on his experiences as a Bowdoin College student. This novel Fanshawe, published without a name in 1828, but did not attract any attention. Hawthorn burned all the novels that had not been sold.
Hawthorne served in customs in 1836. Despite his early failures, in 1837 his friend helped him to publish a short story collection Twice-Told Tales and began formalizing his own name, effectively launching his career. Among them, The Minister's Black Veil (1836) is the most popular and impressive one. Then Hawthorne took part in Brooke Farm founded by Transcendentalists that focused on education and progressive thought. He was married Sophia Amelia Peabody on July 9, 1842 and moved back to Salem. He lived in the old vicarage residence of Concord Village in Massachusetts for three years, during which Hawthorne completed the short story collection Mosses from an Old Manse (1846). This collection of stories featured new and revised works including Young Goodman Brown (1835) and Rappaccini's Daughter (1844).
In 1846, Hawthorne was offered a position as the official surveyor for the Port of Salem. He bought an old house in Concord called The Wayside from Alcott and lived there. In 1848, because of political differences and the authorities, Hawthorne lost his job in Customs. Thus, he committed himself to writing activities, encouraged by his publisher, he completed his most important novel The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne had a chance to meet in nearby Herman Melville and became a friend. Melville dedicated Moby Dick to him, he wrote, “in token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne” (Walter,176) Edgar Allan Poe is also very interested in Hawthorne’s works like "Twice-Told Tales" and wrote many reviews.
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