The tall and mysterious Nathaniel Hawthorne is a man of little understanding. We know him for being very secluded and alone much of the time. We also know he had many secrets that may have accounted for the gloomy tone in his novels. He was a writer who did not believe in the game of small talk and enjoyed losing himself to a world of this own creation. Many people might have thought that Hawthorne came off as rude and uninteresting, but they had no idea of the masterpieces that laid inside his head. The work of Nathaniel Hawthorne was most influenced by his solitary personality and Puritan background.
Born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne was brought up by a family with a long New England history. Hawthorne had many relations to significant Puritans and judges of the Salem Witch Trials. Especially known is Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, a judge who oversaw the Salem witch trials. He is also known for being one of the few who never repented his actions. Because of his family background, Hawthorne added a “w” to his name once he started publishing in order to distinguish himself.
At the age of four, Hawthorne’s father, a sea-captain, died of yellow fever, leaving his mother to raise him. His mother withdrew to a life of seclusion, which she maintained till her death. The reclusive personality of Hawthorne’s mother most likely shaped his own personality as well. Even so, Hawthorne showed a love of writing early on, and at the age of sixteen, Hawthorne created and edited the family newspaper, The Spectator. For two months, he wrote weekly about the news of the day with light heart commentary. Even at the early age, the newspaper showcased Hawthorne’s wit and realization of everyday problems, writing about morality, vain, fame, and fortune.
Even though higher education was not a priority for him, Hawthorne’s uncle helped finance his college education at Bowdoin College. At first, he protested the idea of going for he already knew what he was going to do. At the age of seventeen, Hawthorne said,” “I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases, nor a minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer and live by their quarrels. So, I don't see that there is anything left for me but to be an author." (Nathaniel Hawthorne- Biography , n.d.) It was this direction that Hawthorne took and led his writings, focusing on and highlighting the conflicts of man and their paradoxes.
After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1825, Hawthorne spent much of his time reading and writing in isolation from the rest of the world at his mother’s home in Salem. He read much of the work at the local library, collecting information on his ancestral roots. He read about the Puritan influence on his family and the nearby colonies. Around this time, Hawthorne began writing many short stories. Although his first try at getting published failed, he later wrote his first novel, Fanshawe, which he published anonymously. Despite the...