A Truly Hawthorne Nation Essay, Research Paper
A TRULY HAWTHORNE NATION
Many people have had an effect on this country. The reason for this lies in our
country’s youth. The United States formed at a time when technological advancements
allowed many more people to leave a legacy in its dawning. These advancements led to
a creation of literary history. I find it hard to say one person had a larger effect on
anything than anyone else, but some people do seem to stand out more than others. In
helping to form, or even by just translating how others helped to form this country,
authors were able to compile a great deal of literature. This literature has left us a way to
learn about our history and many of the important people in it. One of these important
people, whom also happened to be an author, was Nathaniel Hawthorne. He wrote about
his own experiences, including his observations of other people’s experiences. His life
led him to the right places at the right times. Today anybody can pick up his works and
take from them the knowledge of what it was like to live during his times. Anyone who
reads his work inherits just a little bit of his style into their own writing. There is so
much of his own work, on top of so much work pertaining to him, in this world that it is
hard for him not to have made an impact on it. He has served as a translator, taking in
the influences of his time and especially the people of his time, to in turn influence the
Nathaniel Hathorne was born July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts(Carey ed.
6). Here alone is where he gained much of his influence, both through his family’s
history, as well as in his own time. Much of his persona can be understood by knowing
some facts of his life. His father died, while at sea, of yellow fever in 1808(Carey ed.
6). Due to a leg injury in 1813 Nathaniel was unable to attend school and was thus home
taught by Joseph Worcester for a short time(online:Dates 1800 to 1900- a timeline from
Nathaniel Hawthorne: 4/1/99). In 1819 he attended Samuel Archer’s School, in
preparation for college(Martin 11). In 1820 he was tutored by Benjamin Oliver(11). He
began his studies at Bowdoin in 1821, where he was privileged enough to work along
side Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Franklin Pierce, and other great minds(Carey ed. 6).
In 1830 he added a “w” to his last name, changing it to Hawthorne(online: Dates:
4/1/99). In 1838 a good friend of his, Jonathan Cilley, died in a duel in Washington
D.C.(online: Dates: 4/1/99). Nathaniel married Sophia Peabody in July of 1842. He
served as consul to Liverpool from 1853 to 1857, a job he received from President
Franklin Pierce, most likely as a gift for having written his biography. Nathaniel his wife
Sophia and their many children lived a happy adventure filled life.
I find it really simple to see where Nathaniel Hawthorne gained his influences,
whether it be his family history or the unique paths he chose to take in his extraordinary
life. His family had a deep history in quaint Salem Village, where they were involved in
the infamous Salem Witch Trials. His embarrassment of this history is the reason many
people speculate he changed the spelling of his name. During the early 1830’s Nathaniel
spent time with the Shakers of Cantebury, New Hampshire(Online: Dates: 4/1/99). In
1840 he began a job in the Boston Custom House. He lived at Brook Farm, a utopian
community in West Roxbury, for part of 1841(online: Dates: 4/1/99). From 1853 to
1857, Nathaniel served as consul to Liverpool. I find it easy to say he did not live the
average life, he always strove to learn as much as possible about anything he could.
Luckily for him, but even more so for us, Nathaniel Hawthorne was given many
opportunities to share his wealth of information with the world. In 1836 he was given the
privilege of editing and mostly writing the American Magazine of Useful and
Entertaining Knowledge(Carey ed. 7). In 1837 Nathaniel edited Peter Parley’s Universal
History (Martin 11). In 1845 he edited Journal of an African Cruiser, for Horatio Bridge
(online: Dates: 4/1/99). In 1847 Hawthorne reviewed Longfellow’s Evangeline. In
September of 1852 he published The Life of Franklin Pierce, which was used as the
campaign biography, when Pierce became the fourteenth president. These were some of
his breaks that lead him deeper and more involved into this country’s literary history.
The place where we can most enjoy Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work is in his books.
After spending a portion of his life at Bowdoin, he anonymously published Fanshawe, his
first attempt at sharing the personal views of his life with the public. Fanshawe was
basically a description of the goings on in his college life. He later went on to remove as
many copies of this book from the world as possible. We can only speculate as to why
he did not want it in circulation, though we continue to print it today. Soon after
marrying Sophia, he lived at the Old Manse in Concord, where he was introduced to
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the owner of the Manse, Henry David Thorough, a good friend
and frequent visitor of Emerson’s, Amos Bronson Alcott, a nearby neighbor, Margaret
Fuller, and many other radicals of the Transcendentalism movement(Carey ed.:6). Soon
after moving out of the Old Manse, in 1846, Nathaniel published Mosses from an Old
Manse(online: Dates: 4/1/99). This book is very important, because it is written by
Nathaniel Hawthorne, and in it he has left a trace of how other great authors influenced
him. In 1850 he published The Scarlet Letter, a story somewhat based on his ancestors’
participation in the shortcomings of the early Puritans(online: Dates: 4/1/99). After he
had been consul to Liverpool, Nathaniel along with his family traveled Europe, and took
great notes of the experiences they had. After going back to Salem he used the
compilation of notes as the basis of The Marble Faun, which he published in 1860
(online: Dates: 4/1/99). As you can see from the pattern which I am creating, Nathaniel
Hawthorne took in his influences and put his interpretations down in his work.
Not only did Nathaniel Hawthorne help to write our history, he helped to spread it
in other fashions too. In 1848 he became a manager in a Lyceum, where he was able to
use his influence to invite Emerson, Thoreau, Agassiz, Horace Mann, and countless
others to lecture(online: Dates: 4/1/99). Through his many relationships, such as his
infamous friendship with Franklin Pierce, Hawthorne had the tools to get people
As anyone can plainly see, by helping to record history, Nathaniel Hawthorne has
become an integral part of it. His influences span far beyond that of my own
comprehension. He had an impact on people in his own time, just as he has had on
people ever since. In 1849 Hawthorne met Herman Melville at a picnic. The kinship
formed between these two artists was shown when Melville dedicated his book Moby
Dick to Hawthorne in 1851(Sorel: 73). On March 21, 1994 Vice President Al Gore gave
this speech to the International Telecommunications Union:
“I have come here 8,000 kilometers from my home to ask you to help create a Global Information Infrastructure. To explain why, I want to begin by reading you something that I first read in high school, 30 years ago.
“By means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time….. The round globe is a vast….brain, instinct with intelligence!”
This was not the observation of a physicist—or a neurologist. Instead, these visionary words were written in 1851 by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my country’s greatest writers, who inspired by the development of the telegraph . Much as Jules Verne forsawe submarines and moon landings , Hawthorne foresaw what we are now poised to bring into being ….”
Whether it be in the development of a technological breakthrough, or the completion of a
short story, Nathaniel Hawthorne has been blessed with the ability to touch upon every
achievement in this nation.
I believe in many ways, Hawthorne was foretelling the future. One such example
is when he published The Scarlet Letter, and how he opened up many issues pertaining to
the Women’s Liberation Movement. He used a lot of symbolism in all his writings, such
as in Young Goodman Brown, these symbols were put into place to show women were
just as important as men, which also took part in the Women’s Suffrage Movement later
on. It took a very open-minded man to include these concepts in his works. Quite
possibly these works helped to influence the progression of women to go along as well as
it has. Like the purpose of a history, Nathaniel Hawthorne has taken the mistakes of the
past and taught the future not to make them again, or in the case of mankind he has
taught us to refrain from doing it over and over again, as much as possible.
Nathaniel Hawthorne took what he had as a history along with the influences in
his time to tell the world a story. Whether they were stories from before his time, stories
based on his own life, or even just ideas he spread through the bonds he made, he helped
knit a sense of history that this nation can call its own. I believe he had just the right mix
of history and connections to put him in the center stage of influence. He had
relationships with other great authors and artists of his time, whom he was able to grasp
the concepts of. He had the political ties from which to gain power and initiative. He
even had a family history from which to build on. All these attributes combined with one
of the nineteenth century’s greatest minds, Nathaniel Hawthorne has been able to do
more for this nation than we could ever understand. He paved the way for future writers
and historians. He opened the doors for women and liberals. Most of all, he kept us “up
to date” on our past. You see, Nathaniel Hawthorne really has served as a translator,
taking in the influences of his time and interpreting them in a way to influence the future.
Carey, Gary, M.A., ed.. Cliff’s Notes on Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven
Gables. Lincoln Nebraska: Cliffs Notes Inc.,1984
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Fleming, Thomas. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” The Reader’s Companion to American
History (1991): 493
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Celestial Railroad, and other stories. New York, Signet
Classics, New American Library, 1980.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York, Signet Classics, New American
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Edited by Sculley Bradley, Richmond
Croom Beatty, and E. Hudson Long. W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1961, 1962.
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Quotes from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Online. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/nhquotes.
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