The Hollow Of The Three Hills Essay

, Research Paper

The Hollow of the Three Hills is a story of dishonor,

deceit, and death. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorn portrays

the main character as a beautiful woman with a shameful and

abominable past. She tries to run from her problems but

comes to find out no matter how big or small a problem,

trying to run from it will only make the problem follow.

The main character was so driven by curiosity and

remorse that she brought herself to go see a witch. They

met in a place described by Hawthorne as “a hollow basin,

almost mathematically circular, two or three hundred feet in

breadth,…the resort of the Power of Evil and his plighted

subjects.”(Hawthorne 103) This describes the character as

someone who is a plighted subject who had such a secret that

she had to be where “no mortal could observe them”(Hawthorne

103) She wanted this witch to help her see and hear what was

happening with her loved ones; but she only had one hour to

do so and after this one hour she would die Hawthorne did

not come out and say this but in saying things like “there

is but a short hour that we may tarry here.”(Hawthorne 103)

and I will do your bidding though I die(Hawthorne 103). She

had run from everything that was important to her because

the most important, was dying. Hawthorne was not too clear

in stating what exactly the problem was but it seemed that

her daughter had fallen ill.

Throughout the story Hawthorne masks this fact well and

uses foreshadowing nicely. In one part where the main

character is looking in on her parents by means of the

witches powers and Hawthorne describes her parents as

speaking “…of a daughter, a wanderer they knew not where,

bearing dishonor along with her, and leaving shame and

affliction to bring their gray heads to the grave. They

alluded also to other and more recent woe,”(Hawthorne 104)

The daughter wandering bearing shame is the main character,

who tried to run from her problem which was what they spoke

of next. The more recent woe they were alluding to was

their granddaughter’s death.

Next the main character looked in upon her husband

which she had left to bear the brunt of their daughter’s

mourning. The main character had left her husband all alone

in the world except for their dying daughter and was now

feeling such remorse that she had to see a witch just to

know how he was. He was not well at all, for she had broken

his heart and “he spoke of a woman’s perfidy, of a wife who

had broken her holiest vows”(Hawthorne 104). Not only had

she left him with pain and suffering for their child but she

had also left him with pain and aversion towards her.

She tried to run away from her daughter’s sickness and

encroaching death, but by doing so only brought guilt and

remorse upon herself. She must have known that her husband

would have strong feelings of antipathy towards her and

still willingly looked in on his life to see how he was.

The part in the story when she looked back towards her

husband was the part of the story that stuck out the most as

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style of writing. This was a good

example of his ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’. She felt such remorse

for leaving that the only good thing to do was to check up

on him and see if he was all right. Nathaniel Hawthorne

uses the ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’ in most of his short stories

and novels and this is one example of him using it.

The last thing the woman does out of guilt is checks up

on her daughter. The witch uses her powers to allow the

main character to look back at her daughter; but when she

looks back for her daughter she doesn’t see her all she sees

is a funeral procession.

The daughter died of her illness as Hawthorne

foreshadowed throughout the short story by writing such

things as “into the tone of a death bell”(Hawthorne 105) and

“like lamplight on the wall of a sepulchre.”(Hawthorne 103)

The main character left her daughter to die and that is just

what happened. Looking back in retrospect the main

character probably would have stayed with her daughter.

She cared enough to give her life for just one hour of

looking in on the ones she loved and more than likely would

have liked to be their with them in this time of mourning.

Not only could she have been there to help them but more

importantly they could have been there to help her. As a

mother watching her daughter’s funeral brigade must have

broken her heart but watching it through a witches spell

must have shattered it.

Hawthorne’s main character chose to run like a coward

and in the end paid the worst consequence of all. She gave

up her life to witness the pain and suffering she had cause

others. With her daughter dead by disease, her husband

infuriated with hatred and pain, and her parents filled with

disgust and humiliation she had no one that cared about her

all because she couldn’t handle the emotional stress. How

much emotional stress does it seem she caused to others in

the end though? She tried to escape her duties as a wife

and mother but they just followed her to the very end.


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