Hawthorne Essay Research Paper Nathaniel Hawthorne an

Hawthorne Essay, Research Paper

Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist lived from 1804 to 1864. Hawthorne’s works

are deeply concerned with the ethical problems of sin, punishment, and atonement. He

graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825 and returned to his Salem home living in

semi-seclusion and writing. Hawthorne’s exploration of these themes were related to the

sense of guilt he felt about the roles of his ancestors in the 17th-century persecution of

Quakers and in the 1692 witchcraft trials of Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne’s views on

women in male dominated roles were portrayed as the weaker sex.

Allegory and symbolism are combined in Hawthorne’s work to create sarcasm and

deep thought to his novels. Allegory is a narrative, either in verse or prose, in which

characters, action, and setting represent abstract concepts apart from the literal meaning of

a story. Symbolism is used to designate an abstract quality or concept. Through both of

these concepts Hawthorne revealed the irony in his writings. These elements helped

Hawthorne become a leader in the development of the short story.

“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” contained mostly romantic symbolism. Dr.

Heidegger is the perfect example of the scientific world gone mad. Medbourne is mostly

interested in the economy and is a corrupted businessman. Killigrien is basically interested

only in himself. Gascorgin is a corrupt politician. Wycherly is an example of social

scandal and vanity. The allegory is that Hawthorne is concerned with women’s roles in a

male dominant society and the dangers of applied science.

“Rappaccini’s Daughter” is assembled with Romantic and Anti-

Transcendentalist elements. Light is one of the main components of symbolism in the

story. Dr. Rappaccini is evil and cares more for science than mankind. Professor Baglioni

is basically good and practices “apt” science. Giovanni is Anti-Transcendentalist and

Beatrice is Transcendentalist and are both victims of corrupt science. Hawthorne’s use of

nature in “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is used in the allusion to the Garden of Eden. Beatrice

was poison and forbidden like the apple in the Garden of Eden. An antidote will destroy

poison, therefore when Beatrice drank it, she died.

The Romantic elements that both of these short stories contained included absurd

dramatic effects such as the rose in “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” and the butterfly in

“Rappaccini’s Daughter.” They also contained works of art and mirrors to reveal truth

such as the water from the Fountain of Youth and the garden Dr. Rappaccini created. A

Transcendentalist element that both stories had was that the human spirit is reflected in

nature. A very important Anti-Transcendentalist element that was included in “Dr.

Heidegger’s Experiment” and “Rappacinni’s Daughter” was that nature is indifferent,

unforgiving, and unexplainable.


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