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The Isolated Author Essay

1180 words - 5 pages

While most literature and film presents itself as predictable with optimistic conclusions, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories, in contrast, close in despair and loneliness. “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown” are two examples where the lives of the main characters end in desolation, as opposed to what some people say as happily ever after. As these two stories progress, we realize that the characters of goodman Brown and Mr. Hooper segregate themselves from their societies by forming either a physical barrier or an internal barrier between themselves and their community. While Mr. Hooper had a veil covering his face and goodman Brown had his judgment of others hiding him from societal normalcy, Hawthorne also has signs of isolation in his personal life that separates him from the norm. From his mother’s separation to his personal isolation, these two occurrences played a prevalent part of Hawthorne’s early life. “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil” both share a theme of secret sin, but Hawthorne also uses his personal experiences to validate the effect of isolation on an individual.
Seclusion presented itself as a significant part of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s early childhood and early adult life in such a way that he based several of his literary characters upon these experiences. At the age of four, his father passed away leaving Hawthorne with his mother and two sisters, and after this death, Hawthorne claims his mother, “withdrew to a life of seclusion in her room, which, there or elsewhere, she maintained til her death” (Hawthorne, “I.First Years”). The loneliness portrayed in his short stories connects to his mother’s life of solitude, in which Hawthorne’s characters also display a life of lonesomeness. Hawthorne picked up his self-proclaimed “habit of reading” (“I.First Years”) during his personal seclusion following a sports injury that left him on crutches for three years. Since he began reading and developing concepts at such a young age, his viewpoint on literature became influenced from this habit during a time when he was sheltered from his peers. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1824, Hawthorne returned to his childhood home where he states the “house had habits of hermitage” (“I.First Years”). He was noted as taking these twelve years secluded in what he described as an “intellectual solitude” (“I.First Years”). These years spent alone and away from society have been displayed in a couple of his writings where the main characters are segregated all the way through to their deaths.
The spiritual and emotional separation of goodman Brown in “Young Goodman Brown” resembles the internal separation that Nathaniel Hawthorne withstood for twelve years following his college career. Hawthorne stated that he lived in an “intellectual solitude” (I.First Years) following the days of his college graduation. While he still attended events and such, he spent most of his time reading, writing and...

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