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Puritan Themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Writing

American novelist and nineteenth-century writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was the first writer to apply artistic judgment to Puritan society. There were many transcendentalists during Hawthorne’s time period, but his works showed little optimism and self-confidence. Most of his works were written from a Puritan preoccupation (Comptons Encyclopedia, 83). With a series of short stories and novels that brought back the life of New England’s Puritan past, Hawthorne achieved one of the most distinguished literary careers of the nineteenth century (Dictionary of World Biography, 1064).

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. His mothers name was Elizabeth Manning and his father was Nathaniel Hathorne. Hawthorne’s father was a ship captain who died in 1808 in a distant port. Hawthorne was only four. Hawthorne’s uncle was Robert Manning. Manning was a very well-known Pomologist and was wealthy. John Hathorne was Hawthorne’s great–great grandfather who was one of three judges in the Salem witchcraft trials. He was the first of the family to come to America (Cyclopedia of Worlds Authors, 917).

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sisters were Elizabeth and Maria Louisa. When Nathaniel’s ancestors came to America they were very rich. For a long time, the family had a very rich background, but as years progressed the family began losing money. Most of Salem declined because of the war. The town and Hawthorne did not seem to recover completely (American Writers, 223).

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Picture a man of standard build, with dark hair and dark eyes and smart. This portrays what Nathaniel Hawthorne looked like most of his life. Nathaniel was a very quiet person. As a young boy, he did not have boyfriends that he would go out and play with. As a way of communication, Hawthorne wrote many letters to people (Woodberry, 6). When Hawthorne became older he was often known to join friends at clubs and outdoor sports. He later added the “w” to his last name to make it look the way it was pronounced (Dictionary of World Biography, 1064).

During his adolescent years, Hawthorne became a very private person. This evolved from after his father getting killed. Hawthorne’s family had to depend on his mother’s mother for everything. This made him feel insecure about himself and shy. He often felt like an outsider. His mother was very protective and would not let him do much. He later moved out and fended for himself. He then moved in with his Manning uncles in Richmond, Maine. While living there he attended Bowdin College in nearby Brunswick at age seventeen in 1819 (Dictionary of World Biography, 1066). Hawthorne earned his degree and graduated in 1825. He was ranked eighteen out of thirty-eight in his class.

He spent the next twelve years in Salem where he taught himself to write. This lead to his first writing, “Fanshawe: A Tale,” which was more than forty short stories and sketches. During this time he was staying with his mother which he grew closer to. In 1832 Hawthorne fell in love with Sophia Peabody of Boston. They were married in 1842. The next three years were spent in the Old Manse in Concord. He also wrote there. Despite what happened in Hawthorne’s life he did not let anything stop him from writing (Dictionary of World Biography, 1024).

From 1839 to 1840 Nathaniel Hawthorne worked in the Boston Customhouse, after working at Brook Farm. In 1841, he joined the socialist community. He left to marry Peabody but later returned to work in 1845. He took a post being a good democrat in 1846. He was relieved of that job in 1849. With his wife and three children, they moved to Liverpool, England. There he served four years as United States Consul (Cyclopedia of World Authors, 918). On May 19, 1864, Hawthorne died while riding on a train with his friend Pierce in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Hawthorne accomplished so much and led many positions, but died at an early age of sixty.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most famous work was written in 1850. This was The Scarlet Letter. This novel had the most powerful theme and established Hawthorne’s reputation. This novel made it seem possible to devote himself entirely to his writings. After The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne quickly tried to write many more novels and short stories for children. Some of his most famous writings include The American Notebooks, The English Notebooks, 1828 –” Fanshawe: A Tale,” 1837 – Twice-Told Tales, 1851 – The House of the Seven Gables, 1852 – The Life of Franklin Pierce and 1860 – The Marble Faun, which was his last novel. Nathaniel Hawthorne devoted a lot of his time to his writings not only for the people but also for himself (Barnes and Noble, 79).

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is considered an important representative of the romantic moment in American Literature during the seventeenth century. He achieved one of the most distinguished literary careers of the nineteenth century. Hawthorne was and still is a well-known American novelist. Despite all of his insecurity and shyness, he leads a good life for his family and accomplished plenty (Comptons Encyclopedia, 88).