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Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nineteenth century writers, the list may begin with Mark Twain, but it ends with Nathaniel Hawthorne! Being a brilliant story teller wasn't his only gift to literature. His ability to never give the reader what they desired, while keeping he story interesting, was years ahead of his time and a true gift. He is known for his long novels and also, his short stories. These stories talked about life. His characters, in these stories, had dreams. These dreams never came true. Nathaniel Hawthorne's body of work is still read and enjoyed today because of his passion and love for telling stories.

The only son of Elizabeth Clarke Manning and Nathaniel Hawthorne Senior was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. This firecracker baby was given the name of his father, which was a common practice for first born sons during this time period. They lived together in a house on Union Street until his father died in 1808. His mother quickly moved the family to her parents home, where they lived until 1818. His uncle, Robert Manning, built a home for them in Raymond, Maine facilitating the move. In 1821, he graduated from Bowdoin college. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was in his graduating class. Hawthorne married Sophia Amelia Peabody in 1842. The couple had three children. On May 19, 1964 Nathaniel Hawthorne died in Plymouth, New Hampshire. He was buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery.

Most of the books and short stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne were influenced by his past experiences. Hawthorne was a strong believer in the devil. The characters in his novels often carried out sinister acts. His belief of a higher power came from stories told about the witchcraft trials. He heard about many people being possessed and demonized by a terrifying creature, later told to be the devil. The theme in Hawthorne's writing varied using innocence, guilt and sin, but his description of the unchanging human nature was by far his most commonly used theme. His characters made similar mistakes in their later years to ones made in their youth.

Nathaniel Hawthorne has an unusual style of writing, unlike most of the other writers from his era. His focus was more on the individual rather than the society and social conformity. He strives to make his characters as independent as possible and not to get caught up in society's problems. Hawthorne writes more about inner feelings, rather than the problems in the world. He often used very descriptive adjectives to describes the objects he was talking about. There was no way to put a picture of paper back then so he had to be descriptive as possible to make sure the audience truly understood the imagery presented. He had a formal style of writing, which was long sentences and no contractions. Hawthorne rarely used short sentences, they were always elaborate and full of figurative language. His writing style in ways is like no other writer from the Romantic Period.

Hawthorne's first novel was written in 1828, while working as a newspaper journalist for the Boston Custom House. The title of the book is Fanshawe. Fanshawe depicts his college life at Bowdoin college. This was the first time he had ever attempted to write a novel. The book was unsuccessful and nobody even noticed the book was for sale. Hawthorne later burned the copies he had because he was disgusted about the way the book turned out. Several years later, all the copies of Fanshawe were destroyed. Twelve years after his death a copy of the book was recovered and then soon, it was published.

Hawthorne's most successful novel was, The Scarlet Letter, written in 1850. This masterpiece was influenced by his great-great grandfather John Hawthorne, who himself was one of the judges during the Salem Witchcraft trials. The stories of the trials were passed down from generation to generation in the Hawthorne family. Nathaniel was so fascinated by the stories, he wanted create a story of his own, The Scarlet Letter was born. The novel was about a young lady who committed adultery with a minister. Hester Prynne conceived a child with the reverend, Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester is forced to wear a rather large scarlet colored "A" on her shirt below her left shoulder. She is forced to wear it to make her feel bad for her actions.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the great writers of his time period. He wrote with excitement and joy that really brought the readers in close to his writings. He wrote without fear of judgment or persecution. Hawthorne and his writing did not receive the recognition they deserved until after his death. Sadly this has happened to many different artists and writers throughout history.




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