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Essay/Term paper: Writings of nathaniel hawthorne

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Michael Duncan
ENG. 111
T/TH 9:30 am

³... it is no delusion. There is an Unpardonable Sin!² , a quote by Ethan Brand

that is at the root of many stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthornes

gloomy, dark style of writing is an emphasis on his theme of evil at societies heart.

Writing about what he knew Hawthorne described the puritan society in different

periods of time and defined different characters but all connected through his style.

The stories that exemplify the diversity of Hawthornes writing are ³ Young Goodman

Brown² , ³ Ethan Brand² , and ³The Birthmark² .

Having read these stories it is possible to become engrossed in the darkness

that is portrayed and none is better than ³ Young Goodman Brown² . Young Goodman

Brown, the character, is first introduced to us in the clearing of Salem village and

we learn that he has faith in the goodness of the village and Faith for his companion as

well. The people that we meet in Salem village in the first few paragraphs are just

Goodman and Faith. These two characters are very important to understand for their

surface characters or illusional characters. It is soon learned that Goodman Brown is

not such a good man and later Faith shows us just as much false character. Goodman

and Faith are not the only characters that are not all they seem to be. We come to

meet more characters in the short story that are superficial as is the village itself.

Goodman Brown leaves the bright, warm, goodness of his village to make a journey in

the woods to meet a stranger. A good place to meet a stranger would be these

surrounding woods of Salem for it is here that described by Nathaniel Hawthorne that

³He had taken a dreary road,darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately

behind.² and like the scheming mind of an evil person the dark woods leads one

down the wrong pathway.

The woods are not an allusion as was the village, the woods are exactly what

they seem to be therefore the characters met inside the woods will be as shady as

the woods themselves. Leading Goodman Brown to his despair is the first character,

the stranger. The stranger is much older than the Goodman but the two converse easily

and both understand each other even though they talk around Goodmans evil

purpose. It is this easy conversation that Hawthorne writes to us about Goodmans evil.

Though Goodman Brown believes himself to be alone in his journey down

the trail the stranger tells him that it is a beaten path and has been taken even by his

father. So does the world that has been built up around Goodman Brown begin to

crumble and with the first blow he is set up for more devastation into the world of the

devil. ³ Wickedness or not, I have a very general acquaintance here in New England.²

The devilish stranger explains how even the noblest of people have an evil in their

character and those who hide are those who are trusted the most. Many of these

characters that the stranger knows are companions of the Goodman and these are

Goody Cloyce ,the Deacon, the other patriots of Salem, and even his own wife Faith

who he sees worshiping in the woods behind a hazy fire. By telling the story of a

devil worshiping town in Salem, which is already known for its witch scare, Hawthorne

tries to convey his beliefs that in all of humanity there can and is evil. For those who

believe themselves to be good are not and those who do not are.

³ Ethan Brand² is a different sort of story that will take place in the side of a

mountain where a man and his son and one particular a llimekiln stoaker enter the

scene. Visualized to us by Hawthorne Bartram and his son are sitting by the kiln,

Bartram the steady worker burns limestone and talks to his son about Ethan Brand.

Ethan Brand is a mystery and is representative of the people who are not understood

or who may be the outcasts of society. Ethan Brand was a mystery to his townspeople

who by leaving the daily routine of life and discontinuing the collective society was

branded an outcast and maybe even evil. Hawthorne tries to tell the reader through

the words of the character Ethan Brand about the unpardonable sins in the world.

³ what need have I of the Devil? I have left him behind me, on my track. It is with such

halfway sinners as you that he busies himself. Fear not because I open the door. I

do but act by old custom, and am going to trim your fire, like a lime-burner, as I was

once.² by this one statement Ethan Brand decides that he is not a pawn of the devil as

thought to be. The characters that Nathaniel Hawthorne writes about in this story are

on the opposite side of the good and evil idealism. These characters are not

worshiping the Devil as those in ³ Young Goodman Brown² but are just as devilish in

their track of thought. Both ,described by Hawthorne, are small towns and the thinking

is small as well. This small thinking connects them and I believe that Hawthorne

meant the group opposed to the individual are the devils pawns. Though the main

characters in the stories believe themselves to be evil somehow Hawthorne portrays

them to have the most humanity of any of the characters. ³ There are many such lime-

kilns in that tract of country, for the purpose of burning white marble which composes a

large part of the substance of the hills. Some of them, built years ago, and long

deserted, with weeds growing in the vacant round of the interior...² setting the scene for

the Devils advocates Hawthorne writes about the hills of the limekilns. The vivid

details of the characters surroundings shapes the characters themselves and we

read about them both to help understand Hawthornes idea of evil in humanity. Overall

in the description of both these the reader can visualize how a person can be evil.

Evil is at the root of the story in ³ The Birthmark² for it is here that Hawthorne writes

about the most sinful character. In all of the seven deadly sins committed by man; the

deadliest of all is pride. Priding ones self is terrible but carrying this vanity to another

can be deadly. After reading ³ The Birthmark² the character Aylmer finds for himself

that pride costed him dearly, he lost his lovely wife. Aylmer is representative of the sin

pride. Hawthorne describes the character in such a way that Aylmer portrays himself

as Godlike. The character Aylmer is evil because according to Hawthorne ³ He had

devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned

from them by any second passion.². Is this the possible pride that leads a man to be

considered evil? Yes, according to evidence in the story Hamthorne makes the

character Aylmer in human by taking away his passion for his wife and having it

replaced by passion for only his work. Hawthorne describes Aylmers preoccupation

with perfecting his wifes beauty in the story when writing ³ At all the seasons which

should have been their happiest, he invariably and without intending it, nay, in spite of

a purpose to the contrary reverted to this one disastrous topic.² . Through this text the

author creates a character that we may see into in order to reveal the one tracked

mind. Pride is the ultimate goal for Aylmar; he intends to make a prize of his wife by

trying to make her extraordinary person and alleviating any blemishes. His wife

Georgianais the innocent victim in the story because she must follow her husbands

wishes. Hawthorne once again writing in his time period made traditional characters

of society and these people were in an average class; henceforth keeping traditional

good and evil characters as in many fiction stories. Hawthorne has created a couple

who are the examples of good and evil; Georgiana has the mark of innocence

upon her and Aylmer carries delusions of grandeur. Georgiana is admired for her

beauty by the publics eye and Aylmer is envied by the same. Hawthorne tells us

outright that the two are not happy but what must be understood is that because

Aylmer is unhappy with her birthmark , ³ My peerless bride, it is successful! You are

perfect!, ...dearest Aylmer, I am dying.² , pays the ultimate price for perfection.

Nathaniel Hawthorne is a world renowned writer for his many skills but

especially for his vivid descriptions of gloom and darkness. These skills define his

writing and have an affect on the reader of astonishment. The dark gloomy writing

that Hawthorne portrays in all of these stories give an insight to the evil of normal

people and how it has fatal potential.


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