Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne's use of symbols through much of his writing was caused primarily by his remarkable connection with a mysterious and supernatural plane of consciousness. This fact becomes evident even with just a cursory examination of one or more of his short stories. By using symbols, Hawthorne's ability to express things almost impossible to put into words was greatly increased. Many of the symbols used in "Young Goodman Brown" have both spiritual and mythical merit. It was as if Hawthorne was able to think with the mind of an uneducated peasant, the mind of a well-educated lawyer, and at the same level of shear brilliance of Plato all simultaneously.

"Symbolism and Allegory in Short Fiction" described the use of symbols as follows: "Authors want to find a way to express the inexpressible" (10M.). Again this film paralleled Hawthorne's style by explaining "So we take the abstract qualities of life and make them concrete by using symbols" (10M.). Was it possible that the great Nathaniel Hawthorne was schizophrenic? Did he weave such a layered web of words on purpose? I believe that his giant intellect allowed himself to overcome the common limitations of being a one plane thinker. He thought, read, wrote, and acted, on many different levels. Arlin Turner in "Nathaniel Hawthorne a Biography" stated this very fact:

Jonathan Cilley was probably his most intimate friend in the class; and yet his discrimination would lead him to say, ‘I love Hawthorne; I admire him; but I do not know him. He lives in a mysterious world of thought and imagination which he never permits me to enter.' (40)

This different mode of thought allowed him to create truth from fiction, turmoil from solidarity. By using ambiguous words he was able to create a real wife for Goodman Brown, while also creating a religious experience for Mr. Brown. The name alone is not really significant, but when coupled with the serious religious undertones of the text, it becomes crucial. Goodman Brown lost Faith. He lost his wife faith, the faith he held in his town, and at one point his faith in God's ability to protect those who choose to serve Him.

Saying that one believes in ghosts would to any normal person seem reasonable, but stating that one had witnessed a visible apparition might seem strange.

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