Both his earliest writing under pen names and his accredited later works have always been respected; early admirers include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allen Poe.
American fiction has changed greatly since his time. Popular twentieth and twenty-first century novelists make Hawthorne seem sententious and tedious, like some elderly relative who dominates the dinner-table conversation.
He is weak in dramatic construction; he avoids confrontations where confrontations seem obviously called for, as in the case of Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth at the conclusion of The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne has no qualms about stopping his narrative to present long descriptions of trees, flowers, streams, clouds, sunsets, houses, streets, pedestrians, and so forth.
He lived at a time when photography was in its infancy and there was no way of reproducing photographs in books or magazines. One of the principal characters in The House of the Seven Gables earns his living by making daguerreotypes, a primitive form of black-and-white photography.
Modern readers, who are saturated with mass media, have lost the ability to appreciate such detailed verbal descriptions and have a tendency to skip over them in order to get on with the story.
They often seem impossibly noble or totally sinister to readers who are accustomed to more subtle characterization in fiction.
Mark Twain, the great American novelist, short-story writer, and humorist, sounded the death knell for this kind of writing—at least in the United States—by producing novels such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finnin which the characters talk like real people and are actuated by credible human motivations.
Hawthorne is important as the founding father of genuine American literature—as opposed to the transplanted English literature that flourished on the North American continent before his time.
Additionally, Hawthorne is important because of the influence he had on his successors, particularly in terms of theme and subject matter. He was the first American fiction writer to portray the color and drama in ordinary American life, so later writers such as Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and William Faulkner—in fact, all succeeding American writers—are deeply indebted to him.
Through his dedication to his craft, Hawthorne showed his successors how to be American writers and not English men of letters living in exile.
In practical terms, Hawthorne proved to American writers that they could compete with the more sophisticated English writers for the dollars readers paid for books.
His works might be called an artistic declaration of independence. In the long run, Hawthorne may be regarded as an important writer primarily because of his interest in human psychology and his explorations—daring at the time—of the dark side of human consciousness.
Prior to Hawthorne, the function of literature was considered to be to elevate the human spirit. This is the area of human consciousness that Hawthorne was exploring before Freud was even born. Hawthorne approached it in a guarded way; that is why his works are so full of allegory and symbolism.
Modern authors such as horror writer Stephen King have no such qualms. Hawthorne lived and died before the English naturalist Charles Darwin published his theory, now generally accepted, that the human race is descended from an apelike animal.
In his refined and genteel way, Hawthorne opened up a whole new world of human experience for his literary heirs to explore. His example led to a literature that was more honest in discussing human emotions and motivations.
This hypersensitive, reclusive man had a remarkable strength of character which enabled him to carve out a new literature for a new nation.
Short story A penniless country youth searches colonial Boston for an influential kinsman but discovers that the man is being banished in disgrace.
This ability to suggest a wealth of meaning in compressed form is a sure sign of genius. The moral of the story is that no one should look to others for help: The individual must learn to look out for himself or herself. It also shows the power of his imagination.
It is this sensation of being transported backward in time that holds the greatest interest for the reader. Although Hawthorne seems greatly concerned with matters of religion and morality, he deliberately took a more sophisticated and intellectual approach to these matters than was the case with his Puritan ancestors.
Hawthorne does not reveal why Major Molineux has been tarred and feathered by the townspeople, but their behavior indicates that he has well deserved it. Short story A young man sneaks off to the forest to witness a devil-worshiping orgy and is shocked to find many respected citizens in attendance.
The humor is vital to this story; the reader is enticed along the forest pathway by an illusion of frivolity and comes to realize the full horror intended only after finishing the last page.
Stories such as this entitle Hawthorne to be considered one of the principal founders of the modern short story, a form of literature in which American authors have excelled.
The single effect of a modern short story can be produced by the overall mood, as is often the case in the works of the Russian writer Anton Chekhov, or by a surprising or shocking ending, as is usually the case in the stories of the French writer Guy de Maupassant and the American writer O.
Some of his stories are not unlike modern horror films, which evoke laughter from the audience along with shivers and shrieks. Short story On a mere whim, a middle-aged man leaves his wife and lives by himself for twenty years within one block of his former home in busy London.
It is part story and part essay. The author does not try to conceal his presence, as is usually done by fiction writers for the sake of achieving greater verisimilitude, but actually invites the reader to participate with him in creating the story and deducing a moral.
Instead of aiming at suspense, Hawthorne gives the whole plot away in one sentence: The story is a masterpiece: It also has a haunting effect,Edgar Allan Poe, “Morning on the Wissahiccon” Save $40 when you buy both Edgar Allan Poe volumes.
This is the most complete one-volume edition of Poe’s essays and reviews ever published.
The Poe Studies Association and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society will host a joint international conference with the Japanese Poe Society and the Japanese Hawthorne Society in Kyoto, Japan from June , Symbolism, and Madness – Comparing the Demons of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne As contemporaries of each other, Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne endeavored to write about man’s dark side, the supernatural influence, and moral truths.
Hawthorne and Poe both address nature as the harbinger of the apocalypse, use symbolism to convey biblical allusions, and discuss humanities role in the apocalypse. In both Rappaccini’s Daughter, and The Masque of the Red Death, nature can be described as the herald of Armageddon.
Critical essay on the theme of twinning in Poe's "Ligeia" and his "The Fall of the House of Usher." In each story, the idea of doubling is carried beyond the surface elements into deeper, subtler comparisons and contrasts, and in both cases ending up by questioning the narrator/protagonist's identity and/or sanity.
Comparison between Poe and Hawthorne Essay. There were several authors who helped contribute to the greatness of American literature, but Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe made an impact all on their own – usually making use of how the conscience and subconscious manipulate one’s behavior - Comparison between Poe and Hawthorne Essay introduction.