On the Haunted Mind

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Josh Lotkowictz FWS Essay 2 Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Haunted Mind is an in depth look at the moment in the night when sleep has just been broken, but wakefulness has yet to settle in. It is in these moments that many of our truths are revealed. In this context of a fleeting moment of truth, the fifth paragraph is especially powerful. In this paragraph, a combination of figurative language and imagery emphasizes the emotional vulnerability of the moment. The figurative language used in this paragraph results in powerful and dark descriptions. The author says that in every heart “there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones, or prisoners whom they hide.” This language addresses the way we deal with, or choose not to deal with, our thoughts and feelings. When we experience something negative, or perhaps learn something that we neither expected nor wanted to, it can be difficult to deal with up front. In these situations it is instead easier to lock them away somewhere that neither others nor we can see. Having put all things negative out of sight and out of mind, we then put on a show. Like all good shows it involves lights, music, and revelry. We pretend to be happy, we laugh more than we normally would, and we strive to take interest and find enjoyment in things that we do not really care about, as a means of filling the space. So the music plays and the prisoners are left to fester. Sometimes, however, the prisoners escape. The author says that “sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, those dark receptacles are flung wide open.” In these moments just after waking, our minds are vulnerable. They are not actively locking negativity away and covering it up with something better. Instead, all of the pain and doubt that had been so carefully removed comes to the
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