Symbolism in Writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne often employed symbols in his stories. The literary term symbol is like an allusion placed in an image, action, thing or person ("images and symbols"). Symbols may be hard for readers to discover. It can be seen with the eye or not visible. One source described it as "a word or object that stands for another word or object" ("Symbol"). A Handbook to Literature states that "a symbol is something that is itself and also stands for something else" (509). Nathaniel Hawthorne is well known for using symbols of nature in many of his stories. In My Kinsman, Major Molineux, lead character, young Robin, comes to town with the expectation of a distant relative handing him a silver spoon. In this story Hawthorne uses the light and dark to represent good and evil. When Robin first arrives in town "It was near nine o'clock of a moonlight evening" (584). In this description early on we see the contrast of light and dark combined. It is nine o'clock and it is evening, however the light of the moon was shining. This shows the uncertainty of Robin's journey early on; he is doubtful, hesitant and shady. Robin ends up walking for a very long time in the dark. He is given several opportunities to rethink his intentions. The people he comes in contact with all have some symbolism of good versus evil, including the half naked housekeeper, representing temptation, and the gentleman that led him to the church who is described as having "One side of his face blazed of an intense red, while the other was black as midnight" (591). Hawthorne is giving Robin a chance to think about his purpose in life and choose a different path. Robin ends up at a church which is a pivotal turning point in the story. The church is ... ... middle of paper ... ...llam/general/glossary.htm "Images and Symbols." Literary Analysis Tips In a Glossary of Analytical Terms. 12 March 2006. http://faculty.goucher.edu/eng211/literary_analysis_tips_in_a_glos.htm Harmon, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2006. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Ambiguities of Nature. 7 December 2004. www.staff.uni-mainz.de/lindem/americanstudies/lectures/transparencies/2004ws_lect_nature/2004_12_07. PDF Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "My Kinsman, Major Molineux." Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter, 6th ed. New York: Norton, 2003. 584-597 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Baym, Nina, et al. 610-619. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Maypole of Merry Mount." Baym, Nina et al. 619-626.
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