Hawthornes Rejection of Puritan Values

Mather 22)

Hawthorne clearly stepped away from the Puritan ethic by consistently alluding to the existence of the earthly supernatural. Though this was a fear of the Puritans, clearly it was associated with Satan and possession of the living. In Hawthornes works the supernatural was associated with less grand sources, such as those seen in Young Goodman Brown. (Hoeltje 39-40) Hawthorne allows his characters to explore concepts that would have been those deemed heretical within the Puritan settings of the works.

In The Birth-Mark, Hawthorne associates the active expulsion of character traits of humanity clearly results in the death of the whole.

The line of divergence in “The Birth Mark” is indicated by its name. We all have our birth-marks, — traits of character, which may be temporarily suppressed, or relegated to the background, but which cannot be eradicated and are certain to reappear at unguarded moments, or on exceptional occasions…The father who attempts to force his son into a mode of life for which Nature did not intend him, or the mother who quarrels with her daughters friends, commits an error similar to that of Hawthornes alchemist, who endeavors to remove the birthmark from the otherwise beautiful face of his wife, but only succeeds in effecting this together with her death.

Stearns 182)

Within this work Hawthorne clearly analogizes the challenges of a culture to repress the humanity of its members in the name of faith or propriety. Within Rappacinis Daughter, as in the Scarlet Letter, the challenge to culture is the internal psychological expression of sexuality in a repressed culture. The admissions of sexual desire is punishable even in the situation of matrimony and Hawthorne refuses this ideal, blaming it for indiscretions of morals.

Emmett) “The Birth-mark, like the preface to RappacinisDaughter,raises the possibility that Hawthorne sees himself penned up in an allegorizing mode that produces the masculine obsession to stereotype how women read themselves.”

Pfister 45) Hawthorne expresses the gender conflicts that have been born of the repression of thoughts and feelings within a conservative culture.

Rejecting the ideals of the Puritan and the Victorian Eras Hawthorne acts as a soothsayer of the coming age of cyclical relaxation that can be seen respectively in the flapper era and of course the 1960s. Within his work is the expression of the ideals associated with greater personal freedom and a better understanding of the whole man, minus the stereotypes of the allegorical good-man-woman. Within his works, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown, Birthmark and Rappaccinis Daughter there are countless examples of a stretching of strict values. There is no question that his history spoke through his works and that his belief in the failure of human character, not in its flaws but in their denial was the core of his belief. Witness to oppression, and its results Hawthorne is a revolutionary in the sense of personal choice and the reliance on the judgment of the eternal rather than that of the fellow man.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2004.

Emmett, Paul J. “Narrative Suppression: Sin, Secrecy and Subjectivity in “The Ministers Black Veil.” Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 25.1-2 (2004): 101+. Questia. 16 Jan. 2005 http://www.questia.com/.

Gartner, Matthew. “The Scarlet Letter and the Book of Esther: Scriptural Letter and Narrative Life.” Studies in American Fiction 23.2 (1995): 131+. Questia. 16 Jan. 2005 http://www.questia.com/.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. London: J.M. Dent, 1906.

Hoeltje, Hubert H. Inward Sky: The Mind and Heart of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1962.

Mather, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne, a Modest Man. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1940.

Pfister, Joel. Class, Gender, and the Psychological in Hawthornes Fiction Class, Gender, and the Psychological in Hawthornes Fiction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 1991.

Stearns, Frank Preston. The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1906.

Streeby, Shelley. “Haunted Houses: George Lippard, Nathaniel Hawthorne,.