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The Puritan Effect Essay

2147 words - 9 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne is respected as “one of the great masters of American Fiction” (“Hawthorne, Nathaniel” 363). He is an accomplished author who wrote novels as well as children’s literature. However, Hawthorne’s strength is American short story; his “haunting” tales are undeniably responsible for establishing this genre as a “significant art form” (“Nathaniel Hawthorne” Columbia 1). He is known for his “penetrating explorations” of the conflicts within one’s conscience and the consequences that plague his characters, as a result of their disobedience (“Nathaniel Hawthorne” 1). These “dilemmas” of the “human condition” are prominent in his story, “The Birth-Mark” (Tuerk 1). Mosses of an Old Manse, is a compilation of short stories; which includes “The Birth-Mark”, they are considered “his best collection” of works (“Hawthorne, Nathaniel” 365). The singular piece that brought him much admiration is “The Scarlet Letter”; its popularity is equal to the quality of his short stories. Hawthorne continues to attract a new audience, and this is a testament to his “content to describe both sides of the human coin” and his “meticulous craftsmanship” (Tuerk 1). Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote “The Birth-Mark”, was a descendent of Puritans and this fact influenced his allegorical writings; the short story contains symbolism, irony, and a theme of one man’s struggle to accept Nature’s ultimate supremacy over humanity.
On Independence Day of 1804; Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He started his life on a day that is a symbol of perseverance and transformation to the world. Comparatively, Hawthorne’s endeavors set forth a revolution in the world of literature. American writers in that time were responsible for a “literary declaration of independence”; Hawthorne and Edgar Allen Poe were the visionaries who created an intriguing new genre, Gothic American Fiction. (Ellis 4; “Hawthorne, Nathaniel” 365). However, Hawthorne’s road to literary freedom was besieged with personal battles; comparable to his character’s heart-wrenching dilemmas, a young Nathaniel suffered a similar pain. Above all, it was his father's death that ended his days as a carefree child. When Hawthorne was four years old his father, a ship captain, fell ill and “died in a distant port” (Tuerk 1). Consequently, this misfortune left Nathaniel to be raised in an isolated environment by his “grief stricken and reclusive mother”; thus attributing to his “intensely introspective nature” (“Hawthorne, Nathaniel” 363). His circumstances and the fact that he was from Salem, fueled a consuming fascination with his Puritan ancestry; as “no one could grow up in Salem without a strong sense of the past” (Ellis 4). The plot of Nathaniel's life read like one of his novels, and through the eyes of a heartbroken little boy; he...

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