Nathaniel Hawthorn Essay, Research Paper
Nathaniel Hawthorne was the first American writer to gain international critical
recognition as a great master of prose fiction. His works are noted for their
psychological probing into human nature. His stories and sketches reveal themes
central to Hawthorne s imagination.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. His
father died of yellow fever when Nathaniel was only four years old, leaving him with his
mom and two sisters in financial need. Nathaniel s mother had gotten sick, leaving him to
take care of his sisters. His mother finally got better and was back on her feet.
When they had moved back to their family home, Nathaniel had injured his foot, which
made him unable for almost three years. While recovering from his injury, he had developed the
love of reading. Spenser, Bunyan,and Shakespeare were his early favorites. The more he read the
more it matured his mind and shaped his future for writing.
He was working after school in the family stagecoach office. Pooling the family
resources, his uncles and aunts determined to send him to Bowdoin College in Maine.
He entered college in March of 1821. While in his four years of college, he had made
friendships that would last a lifetime. Three of his classmates and close friends were Horatio
Bridge/ Navy Commander, Franklin Pierce/ fourteenth President of the United States, and Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow/ a poet.
While here in college, he began to write. He started his novel Fanshawe which was a
romance and an adventure occurring in a college reminiscent of Bowdoin. When he moved back
Salem, he then began his silent years, where it became very serious for him to write. He would
read and read filling his mind with usable history. He began sending stories to editors at the close
of 1829. In selling individual stories and essays to periodicals, Hawthorne found decreasing
difficulty. He published at least six contributions in 1830. Eight in 1831, seven in 1834, nineteen
in 1835, ten in 1836, ten in 1837, and ten in 1838. In 1837, his Twice Old Tales appeared with
his name on it. He established a pattern in these early years. Hawthorne s symbols were
psychological and imprecise.
Hawthorne lived in Boston in 1836 for six months and edited many children s books. In
1839, he had gotten secretly engaged to Sophia Peabody. Because of this, he sought for a
supplementary and steadier income. For that reason, he was appointed to the Boston
Customhouse in 1839. He asked for a minor position so that he could continue his writing. In
1846, Hawthorne moved back to Salem and took a position in the Customhouse in order to
support his family.
Success finally came with the publication of three of his greatest novels. One of them to
be The Scarlet Letter which had appeared in 1850 and made him famous. It was recognized as
the greatest of American novels. A while later, he moved westward and he and his family settled
in The Little Red House near Lenox. While living in Lenox, he wrote his second great novel
which was The House of Seven Gables, a sombre study in heredity which was public in 1851.
He had stimulated a friendship with Herman Melville which was one of the most fortunate
friendships in American literature. Melville wrote his famous epic, Moby Dick, and dedicated it
Late in the autumn of 1851, Nathaniel, his wife Sophia, his three children (Una, Julian, and
Rose) returned to Massachusetts and settled for the winter at West Newton. While settling here,
he had written a third great novel, The Blithedale Romance, a study of a socialist community
based upon his evidence at Brook Farm.
In 1852, he was generously bestowed to the consulship at Liverpool (Encyclopedia
Britannica). From 1853 to 1857, the Hawthornes had lived in England where Nathaniel was
resigning his post at the end of Pierce s administration. Then in 1859, the Hawthornes returned
to England where he wrote The Marble Faun, his last completed novel and his most earnest
study of the problem of good and evil. The book was published simultaneously in London and in
Boston in the early 1860 s. In June of the same year, the Hawthornes decided to settle back in
America. They settled at Wayside. They had been gone for almost seven years. Mrs. Hawthorne
had noticed upon their trip home that her husband s health was beginning to weaken. Whatever
the reason, Hawthorne s weakness and health was fading rapidly and mysteriously. He was
still able to salvage some of the material in his English journals. He had attempted to write more,
but his imagination of literature was being less successful.
He had dedicated Our Old Home to Franklin Pierce in 1863. In 1864, Franklin Pierce
took Hawthorne on a trip to the mountains, but on the way there, at Plymouth, New Hampshire
early in the morning, on May 19, 1864,