Nathaniel Hawthorne's Life Essay

1160 words - 5 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne was an extraordinary writer, who used real life experiences in every one of his stories. However, growing up in a Puritan society during a reformation gave Hawthorne a distorted view on God’s character. Hawthorne was intelligent, but by no means a people person, which created a pathway for him to become an author. There were a few key points in his life growing in a religion zealous society that lead him to abandon his faith. Hence, the short story of “Young Goodman Brown” representing that humans are cynical and evil, and the dangers of losing your faith in God.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in the year 1804 in the heart of Salem, Massachusetts, where to Salem witch trials were conducted. Hawthorne was born in an unforgiving time period, where life revolved around religion and family. Hawthorne’s father died of Yellow Fever in the year 1808. Nathaniel grew up fatherless, which had a lasting effect on who he later became to be. Education at the time was centered on reading and writing, with a heavy religious influence. “The education of the next generation was important to further "purify" the church and perfect social living” (Kizer). However, since his father passed away, there was no other man to instill the Puritan beliefs into young Nathaniel. Hawthorne later on was able to see the culture through a different lens than the people surrounding him, which made him slightly opposed to the Puritan way of life. He became intellectually rebellious; not thinking in the same way that his peers or family was.
There was a catalytic event that occurred throughout the mid-1700s to the early 1800s, known as the Second Great Awakening. This event was the slow reformation of Puritan doctrine which lead to new denominations to arise such as Baptist and Methodist. Hawthorne’s childhood was when this new reformed church and doctrine was in full swing. Some of the new beliefs consisted included the idea of free will, that you have the choice to follow God’s will or follow your own. Nathaniel was an intelligent and resourceful young man, and was doing research of the previous Puritan doctrine, which lead him to stray farther away from his faith.
The Puritan doctrine during the 1600s had five main points that were very extreme and taken literal. The first coined term was named “total depravity” which meant because of Adam’s fall everybody was inherently evil. No man could ever do any good without the aid of God. The second key point was “unconditional election” which was the belief that God selected only a few people to enter Heaven and you are predestined; this is very similar to Calvinistic beliefs in today’s world. The third term used was “limited Atonement” which stated that Jesus only died for a select few not for all of mankind. The fourth Puritan belief was named “irresistible grace” which states that you cannot earn God’s grace in any way. The fifth and final belief was called the “perseverance of the saints” which says that if you ever...

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