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Nathaniel Hawthorne's Symbolism Briefly Revealed

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, and he was called "the most valuable example of American genius" by author Henry James in 1879. (Baym) This was no understatement from Mr. James by any means. In fact, Hawthorne was best known for including large quantities of symbolism in his writings. Clearly, this was an intriguing method of writing; for symbolism can be defined as "anything that stands for something beyond itself". (Wiehardt) Needless to say, Hawthorne was a very talented writer. It is for that very reason that we will now explore the visionary symbolism in three of his famous pieces - My Kinsman, Major Molineux, Young Goodman Brown, and The May-Pole of Merry Mount.

In this story, My Kinsman, Major Molineux, the reader finds themselves lost in a sea of emotions as the main character, Robin, goes about the town in search of Major Molineux. Now, it does not take the reader long before they begin to ponder if the main symbol in this story could quite possibly be the story itself - that it symbolizes Hell. When Robin first gets to town, he is treated quite rudely. The first person being the old man walking in the street who threatened Robin "your feet shall be brought acquainted with the stocks, by daylight, tomorrow morning!". (Baym, My Kinsman, Major Molineux) Therefore, the nasty treatment could be symbolizing the evil found in Hell. The next symbol we see that seems to be symbolizing a man of a dark and evil nature that, quite possibly, could be the devil himself with "one side of the face blazed of an intense red, while the other was black as midnight". (Hawthorne, My Kinsman, Major Molineux) Also, it is quite clear that this place was full of evil and sin. One example is the wanton woman trying to trick Robin into her...

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...e Norton Anthology of

American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2008. 621.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The May-Pole Of Merry Mount." Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of

American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. , 2008. 616.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of

American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. , 2008. 607.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of

American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. , 2008. 611.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of

American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2008. 612.

Wiehardt, Ginny. Symbol -- Definition of Symbol for Creative Writers. 10 November 2011

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