Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay, Research Paper
American author and short story writer, born in Salem, Mass., U.S. Hawthorne’s best known works are THE SCARLET LETTER (1850) and THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1851).
Hawthorne’ father was a sea captain and descandent of one of the judges in the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. His father died when he was four year old.Hawthorne was educated at the Bowdoin College in Maine (1821-24), and published his first novel, FANSHAWE anonymously in 1828 at his own expense. In the school among his friends were Franklin Pierce, who become the 14th president of the U.S., and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
After silent years he edited the American magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge in Boston, and compiled in 1837 PETER PARLEY’S UNIVERSAL HISTORY for children. In ws followed by a series of books for chidren – GRANDFATHER’S CHAIR (1841), FAMOUS OLD PEOPLE (1841), LIBERTY TREE (1841), and BIOGRAPHICAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN (1842).
In 1842 Hawthorne became friends with the Transcendentals in Concord – Ralp Waldo Emerson , Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, but generally he did not have much confidence in intellectuals and artist. He married in 1842 Sophia Peapody, and settled with her in Concord.
A growing family and mounting debts compelled the family’s return to Salem. In 1846 he was appointed surveyor of the port of Salem, where he worked for three years. The Scarlet Letter appeared in 1850 and The House of the Seven Gables next year. During these productive years he also established a warm friendship with Herman Melville, who dedicated Moby-Dick to him.
In 1853 Hawthorne was appointed the consulship in Liverpool, England. He spent then a year and half in Italy writing THE MARBLE FAUN (1860), which was his last completed novel. In his Concord home, The Wayside, he wrote the essays contained in OUR OLD HOME (1863). Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, in Plymouth, N.H. on a trip to the mountains with his friend Franklin Pierce.
The Scatlett Letter: In Puritan New England, Hester Prynne, the mother of an illegitimate child wears the scarlet A (for adultress) for years rather than reveal that her lover was the saintly young village minister. Her husband, Roger Chillingworth, proceeds to torment the guiltstricken man, who confesses his adultery before dying in Hester’s arms. Hester plans to take her daughter Pearl to Europe to begin a new life.
The House of the Seven Gables: Based on the legend of a curse pronounced on Hawthorne’s own family by a woman condemned to death during the Salem witchcraft trials. The curse is mirrored in the decay of the Pyncheon family’s seven-gabled mansion. Finally the descandentant of the killed woman marries a young niece of the family and the hereditary sin ends.
Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934), the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who began publishing short fiction in 1870. Many of JH’s novellas and short stories are weird tales of curses and apparitions, some drawing inspiration from his Swedenborgian faith. His career was interrupted by a jail term. He moved to California, where he wrote for newspapers, pulp magazine All-Story Weekly, and edited series of anthologies. His daughter Hildegarde (1871-1952) wrote also some fantasy, which can be found in Faded Garden (1985, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson).