Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales

4 April 2015
This paper shows how Hawthorne’s writings serve as a social commentary on the inherent dangers in blind acceptance of religious teachings.

An examination of three of Hawthorne’s works: Young Goodman Brown, The Birthmark and Ethan Brand . This paper shows that in all three, the author wishes to comment on the consequences of allowing religion to mar true recognition of goodness and beauty. All three stories highlight the fact that human kindness and faith are more important than obsession with religious teachings. Although Hawthorne’s writings have often been interpreted as being influenced by the author’s Puritan heritage, the writer shows that there is equally a wide acknowledgment that Hawthorne left the interpretation of any moral lesson in his tales to the reader.
The influence of Puritan religion is a common theme in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works. Perhaps, it is the overwhelming presence of this theme that has led to Hawthorne’s writings being interpreted as morbid and full of Puritanical gloom.

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This interpretation is also encouraged by well-documented facts about Hawthorne’s strong awareness of his Puritan ancestry and his sense of guilt over their participation in the famous Salem witch trials. However, there is a much stronger case in favor of the fact that Hawthorne’s purpose was to actually use his writings as an indictment of Puritan society and indeed the folly of blind acceptance of religious teachings.

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