Professor Erin Whitford
American Literature I (409)
18 August 2013 (SumII)
Guilt vs. Innocence, Allegories, Puritanism in Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a nineteenth century American writer that was born in Massachusetts with a Puritan Heritage. “Born in Massachusetts on the Fourth of July, 1804, he was the descendant of Puritan worthies and the son of a ship’s captain who died at sea in 1808” (Gollin). Allegories are portrayed in his writings to depict a vivid outlook of his moral themes. Many of his works describe the human conscience and how it deals with guilt. Hawthorne’s works describe his contemplation on sin and guilt. He believed it had an effect on one’s social behavior, as well as on the emotional, and mental state of mind. As a short story writer, he filled minds with the symbolic method of representing a darker side of human nature. “The Minister’s Black Veil,” “The Birthmark,” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” are all exceptional stories of good versus evil and the light and dark in human nature. “Hawthorne's works probe into human nature, especially its darker side” (Clendenning).
Hawthorne’s Puritan heritage played a role into his writings. Even though he did not share the exact same beliefs as Puritans, those beliefs helped create his stories. “The Hawthorne legacy was one of strict Puritanism which Hawthorne grappled with in his stories and novels, The Scarlet Letter perhaps being the most well-known” (Nathaniel).Hawthorne tried to lead a life and that which he knew, humans created sin. He did not try to lead a pure and cleanly coated white life; instead he enthusiastically accepted it. “To Hawthorne, romance meant confronting reality, rather than evading it”(Clendenning).
In the short story of the “Ministers Black Veil”, Hawthorne used the black veil as the key symbol. The black veil is worn over Minister Hooper’s face just long enough to be shaken by his breath. As Mr. Hooper walks in with the...