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American Literature

Table of Contents
? Introduction ? Brief Outline of American Literature ? Chapter I Colonial Period

? Chapter II Revolutionary Period
Benjamin Franklin Philip Freneau

? Chapter III American Romanticism
Washington Irving James Fenimore Cooper William Cullen Bryant Edgar Allan Poe Nathaniel Hawthorne

1. What is literature? Writings that are valued as works of art, esp. fiction, drama and poetry. Forms (genres) of literature? Poetry, novel (fiction), drama, prose, essay, epic, elegy, short story, journalism, sermon, (auto) biography, travel accounts, novelette, etc.


Puritanism in America
1. They follow the ideas of the Swiss reformer John Calvin. 2. Doctrines: - Predestination
- Original sin and total depravity (human beings are basically evil.) - Limited atonement (or the Salvation of a selected few)

3. Puritan values (creeds):
Hard work, thrift, piety, sobriety, simple tastes. Puritans are more practical, tougher, and to be ever ready for any misfortune and tragic failure. They are optimistic.

Puritanism in America
4. Why did Puritans come to America?
- to reform the Church of England
- to have an entirely new church - to escape religious persecution * God’s chosen people * To seek a new Garden of Eden * To build “City of God on earth”

Puritanism in America
5. Influence
- American Puritanism was one of the most enduring shaping
influences in American thought and American literature. - American literature is based on a myth, i.e. the Biblical myth

of the Garden of Eden.
- Puritanism can be compared with Chinese Confucianism.

Brief Outline of American literature
1. Colonial period (1607-1775)
Anne Bradstreet Edward Taylor

5. Realism (1861-1914)
Mark Twain Henry James

2. Revolutionary period
(1775-1783) Benjamin Franklin Philip Freneau

Stephen Crane Theodore Dreiser

3. Democratic Period (17831802) 4. Romanticism (1820-1861)
Washington Irving Edgar Allan Poe Nathaniel Howthorne William Whitman * Transcendentalism * (New England Renaissance) Ralph Waldo Emerson Fillip Thoreau


The 1920s
T.S. Eliot William Faulkner Ernest Hemingway (Lost Generation) Imagism: Ezra Pound

Brief Outline of American literature
7. The 1930s
Steinbeck Harlem Renaissance (Black American literature) Hughes Wright Ellison

9. The Post-war Scene
Saul Bellow Salinger

8. American Drama
Eugene O’Neill

Poetry: Confessional Poetry Black Mountain Poets San Francisco Renaissance The Beat Generation The New York Poets

Chapter One
Colonial Period (1607-1775)

Three major poets in colonial period: 1. Anne Bradstreet 2. Michael Wigglesworth
3. Edward Taylor

1. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

1. Anne

“Some verses on the Burning of Our House” “The Spirit and the Flesh” The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America

the first collection the first noted poetess in colonial period published by English colonists Bradstreet’s Works living in America

2. Anne Bradstreet’s Life
* She was born and educated in England.
* At the age of 18, she came to America in 1630 with her father and husband. * She had 8 children. * She became known as the “Tenth Muse” who appeared in America.

2. Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705)
the most popular poet in American Colonial Period Work: “The Day of Doom” (1662)

3. Edward Taylor (1642?-1729)
the finest poet in colonial period Work: Preparatory Meditation

Features of Colonial Poets
1. They were servants of God.
Puritan poets

2. They faithfully imitated and transplanted English literary traditions.

In English style

Chapter Two
Revolutionary Period (1775-1783)

“The Age of Reason” “American Enlightenment”

? In the 18th century, people believed in man’s own nature and the power of human reason. With Franklin as its spokesman, the 18th century America experienced an age of reason. ? Words had never been so useful and so important in human history. People wrote a lot of political writings. Numerous pamphlets and printings were published. These works agitated revolutionary people not only in America but also around the world.

? The 18th-century American Enlightenment was a movement marked by an emphasis on rationality rather than tradition, scientific inquiry instead of unquestioning religious dogma, and representative government in place of monarchy. ? Enlightenment thinkers and writers were devoted to the ideals of justice, liberty, and equality as the natural rights of man. ? The colonists who would form a new nation were firm believers in the power of reason; they were ambitious, inquisitive, optimistic, practical, politically astute, and self-reliant.

Leading writers and their works
? Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826): The Declaration of Independence (1776) ? Thomas Paine(1737-1809): Common Sense (1776) ? Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography ? Philip Freneau: “The Wild Honey Suckle”

1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

1. Works
? The Autobiography ? Poor Richard’s Almanack

2. Life
Benjamin Franklin came from a Calvinist background. He was born into a poor candle-maker’s family. He had very little education. He learned in school only for two years, but he was a voracious reader. At 12, he was apprenticed to his elder half-brother, a printer. At 16, he began to publish essays under the pseudonym “Silence Do good” . At 17, he ran away to Philadelphia to make his own fortune. He set himself up as an independent printer and publisher. In 1727 he founded the Junto club.

Franklin’s Contributions to Society
He helped found the Pennsylvania Hospital. He founded an academy which led to the University of Pennsylvania. And he helped found the American Philosophical Society.

Franklin’s Contributions to Science
He was also remembered for volunteer fire departments, effective street lighting, the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and efficient heating devices. And for his lightning-rod, he was called “the new Prometheus who had stolen fire from heaven.”

Franklin’s Contributions to the U.S.
He was the only American to sign the four documents that created the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Treaty of Alliance with France, The Treaty of Peace with England, The Constitution

3. Evaluation
? The Autobiography is a record of self-examination and self-improvement. ? Benjamin Franklin was a spokesman for the new order of the 18th century enlightenment ? The Autobiography is a how-to-do-it book, a book on the art of self-improvement. (for example, Franklin’s 13 virtues)

? Through telling a success story of self-reliance, the book celebrates, in fact, the fulfillment of the American dream.
? The Autobiography is in the pattern of Puritan simplicity, directness, and concision.

2. Philip Freneau (1752-1832)
? “Poet of the American Revolution” ? “Father of American Poetry” ? “Pioneer of the New Romanticism” ? “A gifted and versatile lyric poet”


1. Works
? “The Rising Glory of America” ? “The House of Night” (1779, 1786) ? “The British Prison Ship” (1781) (1772) 《夜之屋》 《英国囚船》

? “To the Memory of the Brave Americans” (1781)
? “The Wild Honey Suckle” (1786) ? “The Indian Burying Ground” (1788) ? “The Dying Indian: Tomo Chequi”


《奄奄一息的印第安人: 托姆· 察吉》 《印第安人墓地》


2. Life
? He was born in New York. ? At 16, he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). ? While still an undergraduate, he wrote in collaboration with one of his friends (H. H. Brackenridge) a poem entitled “The Rising Glory of America”.

The wild honeysuckle

( It pronounced the virtues of a new nation progressing towards its freedom; America would be a land blessed with “sweet liberty!/Without whose aid the nobles genius fails,/And science irretrievable must die”) ? In 1771 he decided do a postgraduate study in theology. But two years later he gave it up. ? Later he attended the War of Independence, and he was captured by British army in 1780. ? After being released, he published “The British Prison Ship” in 1781. ? In the same year, he published “To the Memory of the Brave Americans”. ? After war, he supported Jefferson, and contributed greatly to American government. ? But after 50 years old, he lived in poverty. And at last he died in a blizzard.

3. Evaluation
? He was the most significant poet of 18th century America. ? Some of his themes and images anticipated the works of such 19th century American Romantic writers as Cooper, Emerson, Poe and Melville.

4. Aspects of Freneau
? Poet of American Independence: Freneau provides incentive and inspiration to the revolution by writing such poems as "The Rising Glory of America" and "Pictures of Columbus." ? Journalist: Freneau was editor and contributor of The Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia) from 1781-1784. In his writings, he advocated the essence of what is known as Jeffersonian democracy - decentralization of government, equality for the masses, etc. ? Freneau's Religion: Freneau is described as a deist - a believer in nature and humanity but not a pantheist. In deism, religion becomes an attitude of intellectual belief, not a matter of emotional of spiritual ecstasy. Freneau shows interest and sympathy for the humble and the oppressed. ? Freneau as Father of American Poetry: His major themes are death, nature, transition, and the human in nature. All of these themes become important in 19th century writing. His famous poems are "The Wild Honey-Suckle" (1786), "The Indian Burying Ground" (1787), "The Dying Indian: Tomo Chequi" (1784), "The Millennium" (1797), "On a Honey Bee" (1809), "To a Caty-Did" (1815), "On the Universality and Other Attributes of the God of Nature," "On the Uniformity and Perfection of Nature," and "On the Religion of Nature" (the last three written in 1815).

Poem Appreciation

The Wild Honeysuckle

? The following poem was published in his Poems (1786) and was virtually unread in the time when he was living. ? In the poem the poet expresses his keen awareness of the liveliness and transience of nature celebrating the beauty of the frail forest flower, thus showing his deep love for nature. ? The poem was written in six-line iambic tetrameter stanzas rhymed on ababcc pattern. ? The poem is said to anticipate the nineteenth-century romantic use of simple nature imagery. ? It is considered one of the author’s finest nature poems.

Fair flower, that dost so comely grow, Hid in this silent, dull retreat, Untouch’d thy honey’d blossoms blow, Unseen thy little branches greet: No roving foot shall crush thee here, No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature’s self in white array’d, She bade thee shun the vulgar eye, And planted here the guardian shade, And sent soft waters murmuring by; Thus quietly thy summer goes, Thy days declining to repose.

Smit with those charms, that must decay, I grieve to see your future doom, They died----nor were those flowers more gay, The flowers that did in Eden bloom; Unpitying frosts, and Autumn’s power Shall leave no vestige of this flower. From morning suns and evening dews At first thy little being came: If nothing once, you nothing lose, For when you die you are the same; The space between, is but an hour, The frail duration of a flower.

The Indian Burying Ground
? The poem was published in the poet’s Miscellaneous Works in 1788. ? Like “The Wild Honey Suckle”, it anticipated romantic primitivism and the celebration of the “noble savage”. ? The poem portrays sympathetically the spirit of the nomadic Indian hunters, who were traditionally buried in a sitting position and with images of the objects they knew in life. ? It is believed to be the earliest to romanticize the Indian as a child of nature. ? The poem was written in ten iambic tetrameter quatrains with the rhyme scheme of “abab”.

In spite of all the learned have said; I still my old opinion keep, The posture, that we give the dead, Points out the soul’s eternal sleep. Not so the ancients of these lands— The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast. His imaged birds, and painted bowl, And venison, for a journey dressed. Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity, that knows no rest.

His bow, for action ready bent, And arrows, with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the old ideas gone. Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way. No fraud upon the dead commit— Observe the swelling turf, and say They do not lie, but here they sit. Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace, (Now wasted, half, by wearing rains) The fancies of a ruder race.

Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far—projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires) The children of the forest played! There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Shebah, with her braided hair) And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there. By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews, In habit for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer, a shade!

And long shall timorous fancy see The painted chief, and pointed spear, And Reason’s self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.

Chapter Three

American Romanticism (1820-1860)

General Introduction

The term ,Romanticism, is associated with imagination and boundlessness, as contrasted with classicism, which is commonly associated with reason and restriction. The most profound and comprehensive idea of romanticism is the vision of a greater personal freedom for the individual.

Its origins may be traced to :
? the

economic rise of the middle class, struggling to free itself from feudal and monarchical restrictions; ? the individualism of the Renaissance; ? the Reformation, which was based on the belief in an immediate relationship between man and God; ? the scientific deism, which emphasized the deity’s benevolence;

? the

psychology of Locke, Hartley, and others, who contended that minds are formed by environmental conditions, thus seeming to be indicate that all men are created equal and may be improved by environmental changes; ? the optimistic humanitarianism of Shaftsbury; ? the writings of Rousseau who contended that man is natural good, institutions also having made him wicked.

Romantic Attitudes
? 1.

Appeals to imagination; use of the "willing suspension of disbelief." ? 2. Stress on emotion rather than reason; optimism, geniality. ? 3. Subjectivity: in form and meaning.

1. Time Range

From the end of the 18th century through the outbreak of the Civil War.

2. Ideals:

Ideals: Democracy and political equality became the ideals of the new nation.

3. Social Background

Economic boom:
optimism and hope among people

Industrialism Immigration Westward expansion

4. Features

American Romanticism was both imitative and independent. English and European Romanticists Emerson and Whitman

Imitative Independent

5. Themes:





family, nature, children and idealized love, etc.

problems of American life, like the westward expansion and democracy and equality, etc.

1. Washington Irving (1783--1859)
of American Imaginative literature” ? “Father of the American short story”
? “Father

1) Works

A History of New York from the
Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker


b) The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent
Van Winkle” ? “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
? “Rip

《见 闻札 记》

《瑞 普· 温克 凡· 尔》

《睡谷的 传说》

c) Bracebridge Hall 1822 d) Oliver Goldsmith 1840 e) Life of George Washington 1855-1859
《哥尔德 斯密斯》 《华盛顿传》

《布雷斯 布里奇庄 园》

? Irving

was born into a wealthy New York merchant family. From a very early age, he began to read widely and write juvenile poems, essays and plays. Later, he studied law.

first book A History of New York, written under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker, was a great success and won him wide popularity. ? In 1815, he went to England to take care of his family business there, and when it failed, had to write to support himself.
? His

? With

the publication of The Sketch Book, he won a measure of international recognition.


Rip Van Winkle


1826, as an American diplomatic attaché, he was sent to Spain, where he gathered material for his writing. ?From 1829 to 1832, he was secretary of the U.S Legation in London.

? Then

when he was fifty, he returned to America and bought “Sunnyside”, his famous home. There he spent the rest of his life, living a life of leisure and comfort, except for a period of four years (1842--1846), when he was Minister to Spain.

View of Sunnyside

? Washington

Irving was the first American writer of imaginative literature to gain international fame. ? The short story as a genre in American literature began with Irving’s The Sketch Book. ? The Sketch Book also marked the beginning of American Romanticism.

2. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

? novelist

1) Works.

Leatherstocking Tales

The Pioneers 1823 …………………… 4
The Last of the Mohicans 1826 …….2

? ?

The Prairie 1827 ………………………5
The Pathfinder 1840 …………………3 The Deerslayer 1841 ……………........1

? ?


Precaution 1820 The Spy 1821 The Pilot 1823

2) Life
? Born into a rich land-holding family of

New Jersey, Cooper was one of the new American authors who did not have to worry about money. ? He was sent to Yale at 14, but was expelled in his junior year because of improper behavior.

? He went and spent five years at sea;

then, while still in his early twenties, he inherited his father’s vast fortune and settled down to a life of comfort and even luxury. ? His second book, The Spy, a novel about the American Revolution, proved to be an immense success.

? He was a prolific

writer, wrote more than thirty novels.

? Fiction
? Precaution,1820; ? The Spy,1821;

? The Pioneers, 1823;
? The Pilot, 1824; ? Lionel Lincoln,1824;

? The Last of the Mohicans, 1826;
? The Red Rover,1827; ? The Prairie, 1827;

? The Red Rover,1827;
? The Red Rover, 1828; ? The Wept of Wish-Ton-Wish,1829; ? The Water Witch,1830

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

The Bravo,1831; The Heidenmauer,1832; The Headsman,1833; The Monikins,1835; Homeward Bound,1838; Home as Found,1838; Mercedes of Castile,1840; The Pathfinder, 1840; The Deerslayer, 1841; The Two Admirals,1842; The Wing-and-Wing,1842; Le Mouchoir; an Autobiographical Romance,1843;

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Ned Myers, 1843; Wyandotte, 1843; Afloat and Ashore,1844; Miles Wallingford: A Sequel to Afloat and Ashore,1844; Satanstoe,1845; The Chain Bearer,1845; The Redskins,1846; The Crater,1847; Jack Tier,1848; Oak Openings, 1849; The Sea Lions,1849; The Ways of the Hour,1850.

Non-Fiction :
? Notions of the Americans:

Picked Up by a Travelling Bachelor, 1828; ? Sketches of Switzerland,1836; ? Gleanings in Europe,1837; ? The American Democrat,1838; ? The History of the Navy of the United States of America,1839.



Publication Date

Natty Bumppo's Age

Set in Year


The Pioneers




Natty Bumppo first appears as a seasoned scout in advancing years, with the dying Chingachgook, the old Indian chief and his faithful comrade, as the eastern forest frontier begins to disappear and Chingachgook dies.
? ?

The Last of the Mohicans

1826 1827

40 90

1757 1804

An adventure of the French and Indian Wars in the Lake George county.


The Prairie

Set in the new frontier where the Leatherstocking dies.


The Pathfinder 1840 40 1757 Continuing the same border warfare in the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario country.
The Deerslayer 1841




Early adventures with the hostile Hurons on Lake Otsego, NY.

Contributions of Cooper
? The creation of the famous Leatherstocking

saga has cemented his position as our first great national novelist and his influence pervades American literature. In his thirtytwo years (1820-1851) of authorship, Cooper produced twenty-nine other long works of fiction and fifteen books - enough to fill forty-eight volumes in the new definitive edition of his Works. Among his achievements:

Cooper Creates many “first” in the field of American novels
? 1. The first successful American historical romance in ? ? ? ? ?


the vein of Sir Walter Scott (The Spy, 1821). 2. The first sea novel (The Pilot, 1824). 3. The first attempt at a fully researched historical novel (Lionel Lincoln, 1825). 4. The first full-scale History of the Navy of the United States of America (1839). 5. The first American international novel of manners (Homeward Bound and Home as Found, 1838). 6. The first trilogy in American fiction (Satanstoe, 1845; The Chainbearer, 1845; and The Redskins, 1846). 7. The first and only five-volume epic romance to carry its mythic hero - Natty Bumppo - from youth to old age.

? Leatherstocking Tales is a

series of five novels about the frontier of American settlers. ? The Pioneers was probably the first true romance of the frontier in American literature.

? Natty Bumppo represents the

ideal American, living a virtuous and free life in God’s world. To him and to Cooper, the wildness is good, pure, perfect, where there is freedom not tainted and fettered by any forms of human institutions.

? Natty Bumppo is a

veritable embodiment of human virtues like innocence, simplicity, honesty and generosity, a man born with an immaculate sense of good and evil and right and wrong.

? Cooper is a mythic writer. His preface to

the Leatherstocking series indicates that he wrote with increasing consciousness to create a mythic figure. Cooper is good at inventing plots. His plots are sometimes quite incredible. ? Cooper has been known as a powerful yet clumsy writer. His style is dreadful, his characterization wooden and lacking in probability, and his language, his use of dialect, is not authentic.

? Anyhow, Cooper did help to

introduce the “western tradition” into American literature.

3. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
? the first

American lyric poet of distinction

1) Works
a) Poems 1821


b) The Fountain


c) The White-Footed Deer 1844 d) A Forest Hymn 1860 《似水流年》 e) The Flood of Years 1878

《森林赋 》

f) “To a Waterfowl” 1815 g) “Thanatopsis” 1817 h) “The Yellow Violet” 1814



? Bryant was a poet, and editor. ? He was born into a doctor?s family in Massachusetts. ? He started to write poems when he was 14 years old.

? Bryant quitted his study in university and then became a lawyer. ? In 1825, he turned to journalism. In 1827, he became an editor for Evening Post and wrote a lot of political criticism. But it is his poetry which made him popular among people.


? He was influenced by Graveyard School in England and wrote “Thanatopsis”. ? His best works are his lyric poems about nature and so his style is quite similar to that of Wordsworth.

4. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
father of modern short story ? father of detective story ? father of psychoanalytic criticism ?

1) Works

a) Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque 《瓶子里发 b) “MS. Found in a Bottle” 现的手稿》
C) “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” 《毛格街杀人案 》

《奇异怪 诞故事集 》

《厄舍古屋的 倒塌》

d) “The Fall of the House of Usher” e) “The Masque of the Red Death” f) “The Cask of Amontillado”

《一桶酒的 故事》 《红色死亡的 化妆舞会》


g) h) i) j)

The Raven Israfel Annabel Lee To Helen


《致海伦 》 《安娜贝尔? 李》


k) The Poetic Principle l) The Philosophy of Composition

《创作 哲学》

2) Life
? Famous American Poet, short-story writer and critic.

3) Evaluation
? Poe remained the most controversial and most misunderstood literary figure in the history of American literature.

? Emerson dismissed him in three words “the jingle man” ,Mark Twain declared his prose to be unreadable. And Whitman was the only famous literary figure present at the Poe Memorial Ceremony in 1875.

? Ironically, it was in Europe that Poe enjoyed respect and welcome. ? Bernard Shaw said: “Poe was ?the greatest journalistic critic of his time; his poetry is exquisitely refined; and his tales are “complete works of art”.

? Poe?s reputation was first made in France. Charles Baudelaire said that “Edgar Poe, who isn?t much in America, must become a great man in France.”

? Today, Poe?s particular power has ensured his position among the greatest writers of the world. The majority of critics today, in America as well as in the world, have recognized the real, unique importance of Poe as a great writer of fiction, a poet of the first rank, and a critic of acumen and insight. His works are read the world over. His influence in worldwide in modern literature.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Collections of short stories


《故事 重述》

a) b) c)

Twice-Told Tales 1837 Mosses from an Old Manse 1843 The Scarlet Letter 1850 《古宅青苔》

《红字 》


The House of the Seven Gables 1851 The Blithedale Romance The Marble Faun 1860







“Young Goodman Brown”
“The Minister’s Black Veil” “Dr. Rappacini’s Daughter”
《教长的 黑面纱》





《拉普齐 尼博士的 女儿》

Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts. ? Some of his ancestors were men of prominence in the Puritan theocracy of seventeenth-century New England. One of them was a colonial magistrate, notorious for his part in the persecution of the Quakers, and another was a judge at the Salem Witchcraft Trial in 1692.



When Nathaniel was four, his father died on a voyage in Surinam, Dutch Guinea, but maternal relatives recognized his literary talent and financed his education at Bowdoin College. Among his classmates were many of the important literary and political figures of the day: writer Horatio Bridge, future Senator Jonathan Ciley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and future President Franklin Pierce. These prominent friends supplied Hawthorne with government employment in the lean times, allowing him time to bloom as an author.



Like James Fenimore Cooper, Hawthorne was extremely concerned with conventionality; his first pseudonymously published short stories imitated Sir Walter Scott, as did his 1828 selfpublished Fanshawe. Hawthorne later formally withdrew most of this early work, discounting it as the work of inexperienced youth. From 1836 to 1844 the Boston-centered Transcendentalist movement, led by Ralph Waldo Emerson, was an important force in New England intellectual circles.



The Transcendentalists believed that human existence transcended the sensory realm, and rejected formalism in favor of individual responsibility. Hawthorne's fiancé Sophia e Peabody drew him into "the newness," and in 1841 Hawthorne invested $1500 in the Brook Farm Utopian Community, leaving disillusioned within a year. His later works show some Transcendentalist influence, including a belief in individual choice and consequence, and an emphasis on symbolism. As America's first true psychological novel, The Scarlet Letter would convey these ideals; contrasting puritan morality with passion and individualism.


The Scarlet Letter represents the height of Hawthorne's literary genius; dense with terse descriptions. It remains relevant for its philosophical and psychological depth, and continues to be read as a classic tale on a universal theme.

Reasons for Hawthorne's Current Popularity


One of the most modern of writers, Hawthorne is relevant in theme and attitude. According to H. H. Waggoner, Hawthorne's attitudes use irony, ambiguity, and paradox. Hawthorne rounds off the puritan cycle in American writing - belief in the existence of an active evil (the devil) and in a sense of determinism (the concept of predestination).


Hawthorne's use of psychological analysis (pre-Freudian) is of interest today.
In themes and style, Hawthorne's writings look ahead to Henry James, William Faulkner, and Robert Penn Warren


Influences on Hawthorne
Salem - early childhood, later work at the Custom House. ? Puritan family background - one of his forefathers was Judge Hathorne, who presided over the Salem witchcraft trials, 1692. ? Belief in the existence of the devil. ? Belief in determinism.

Major Themes in Hawthorne's Fiction
Alienation - a character is in a state of isolation because of self-cause, or societal cause, or a combination of both. ? Initiation - involves the attempts of an alienated character to get rid of his isolated condition. ? Problem of Guilt -a character's sense of guilt forced by the puritanical heritage or by society; also guilt vs. innocence.

Pride - Hawthorne treats pride as evil. He illustrates the following aspects of pride in various characters: physical pride (Robin), spiritual pride (Goodman Brown, Ethan Brand), and intellectual pride (Rappaccini). ? Puritan New England - used as a background and setting in many tales. ? Italian background - especially in The Marble Faun. ? Allegory - Hawthorne's writing is allegorical, didactic and moralistic.


Other themes include individual vs. society, self-fulfillment vs. accommodation or frustration, hypocrisy vs. integrity, love vs. hate, exploitation vs. hurting, and fate vs. free will.

Hawthorne as a Literary Artist

First professional writer - college educated, familiar with the great European writers, and influenced by puritan writers like Cotton Mather. ? Hawthorne displayed a love for allegory and symbol. He dealt with tensions involving: light versus dark; warmth versus cold; faith versus doubt; heart versus mind; internal versus external worlds.


His writing is representative of 19th century, and, thus, in the mainstream due to his use of nature, its primitiveness, and as a source of inspiration; also in his use of the exotic, the gothic, and the antiquarian.

Features of his works
? ? ? ?

setting themes Idea Feature technique

Puritan New England Evil & sin “black vision” toward human beings Ambiguity symbolism

The Scarlet Letter
? ? ? ?

Hester Chillingworth Dimmesdale Pearl

Sin evil

Adultery Ability Angel

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