Nathaniel Hawthorne's Puritan influences

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was born into a family that possessed prominent Puritan ancestors, and the shame he experienced as a result of their actions, as well as his odd fascination with them, had a significant impact on his life and his writings. Though it would be an overstatement to say that Hawthorne's knowledge of the Puritan way of life was his only source of inspiration, this knowledge was certainly influential as it is often reflected in the majority of his work. Born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804, Hawthorne was born in a town whose Puritan past is well-known as a result of the infamous Salem witch trials. Though he was born well after the time of the Puritans, growing up in a town so steeped in Puritan history is likely why his knowledge of Puritan life was so extensive (Means 1). The reason why Hawthorne was so interested in his Puritan ancestors of Salem was the fact that his great-great grandfather, John Hathorne, was a judge during the Salem witch trials. Also, his great-great-great grandfather was a member of the General Court of Massachusetts and Hawthorne did extensive research into the punishments that his great-great-great grandfather placed upon the sinners of Salem (Barna 2). Hawthorne was so repulsed by these connections that when he began publishing his work he changed his surname to Hawthorne in place of his original surname of Hathorne. While some may argue that Hawthorne was supportive of Puritan doctrine, because of the fact that he often discussed the folly of sin and was viewed as being fairly conservative for seeing sin as an inherent part of human nature, it is not true that he admired the ways of his Puritan ancestors. Hawthorne once stated that society should progress in a slower, calmer ma... ... middle of paper ... ...ots, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 July 2015. Barna, Mark Richard. "Nathaniel Hawthorne And The Unpardonable Sin."World & I 13.3 (1998): 324. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 8 July 2015. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Minister's Black Veil.” Eldritch Press, n.d. Web. 20 July 2015. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print. Manheim, Daniel. “Pearl's Golden Chain in THE SCARLET LETTER.” Explicator 68.3 (2010): 177-180. Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 July 2015. Means, Richard. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Nathaniel Hawthorne (2006): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 July 2015. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” PoemHunter.com. PoemHunter.com, n.d. Web. 20 July 2015. Trepanier, Lee. “The Need for Renewal: Nathaniel Hawthorne's Conservatism.” Modern Age 45.4 (2003): 315-323. Wold History Collection. Web. 20 July 2015.
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