Symbols of a Great Author

Essay by cakalusaCollege, UndergraduateA, January 2005

download word file, 8 pages 5.0

American novelist and short story writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne has captured the hearts and imagination of America. Through his vivid writing style and mystifying themes, he has become one of America's most famous short story authors. Though he uses various literary techniques, Hawthorne seems to enjoy using symbolism in many of his writings. It is prevalent in many of his short stories, including "Young Goodman Brown."

Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, "the descendent of a long line of Puritan ancestors, including John Hawthorne, a minor official presiding magistrate in the Salem witch trials."(Terence) His father, Nathaniel Hawthorne Sr., was born in 1775 in Salem. "Among his ancestors were Major William Hawthorne (c. 1606/7-1681), known for his persecution of Quakers, and John Hawthorne (1641-1717), the son of Major William and Anna Hawthorne who were stern interrogators of the accused witches."(Reuben) After his father was lost at sea when he was only four, his mother became overprotective and pushed him toward more isolated pursuits.

The two of them would rely upon each other for emotional comfort. Tales of his family, and legends from a dark past haunted Hawthorne throughout his life. Hawthorne's childhood left him overly shy and molded his life as a writer and writing style. Perhaps one would think this was how he formed some of his inspiration for many of his stories.

Hawthorne turned to writing after his graduation from Bowdoin College. "His first novel, Fanshawe, was unsuccessful and Hawthorne himself disavowed it as amateurish."(Reuben) But that didn't discourage Hawthorne from continuing writing. He later wrote several successful short stories, including "The Minister's Black Veil," "The Birthmark" and "Young Goodman Brown." However, insufficient earnings as a writer forced Hawthorne to start a "career as a Boston Custom House measurer in 1839.