Nathaniel Hawthorne's My Kinsman, Major Molineux as an Allegory Essay

Nathaniel Hawthorne's My Kinsman, Major Molineux as an Allegory Essay

Length: 1808 words (5.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Nathaniel Hawthorne's My Kinsman, Major Molineux as an Allegory

“May not one man have several voices, Robin, as well as two complexions?” (1261), asks the friendly gentleman in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “My Kinsman, Major Molineux.” Just as one man may have multiple facets, so too may a story, if we correctly interpret samples of Hawthorne’s work. It seems as though modern readers practically assume that his work ought to be read allegorically, and indeed, The Scarlet Letter, and many other famous works of Hawthorne, are brilliant allegories if they are interpreted as such. And yet, Nathaniel Hawthorne, more than a religious zealot or political advocate, was an avid student of colonial history. We read in the Norton Anthology’s brief biography of Hawthorne that, “[Hawthorne] was steeping himself in colonial history more than the political issues of his time” (1248). Becoming more familiar with the history of his young nation, he even published “a child’s history of colonial and revolutionary New England” (1249). This being as it is, it would do Hawthorne’s short stories a great injustice to dismiss their merit as historical commentaries. Obviously, Hawthorne’s works are multifaceted, and one must determine how to best read and interpret them. Can the reader of Hawthorne’s short story “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” interpret this work as an allegory, and if he does, what does the story lose in terms of its historical merit?

In many ways, “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” lends itself to an allegorical reading. One interpretation may be that the work is more of a bildungsroman than a true allegory. Understanding “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” as such, the reader sees Robin as a simple country youth, endeavoring first to throw...

... middle of paper ...

...eristics of an allegory, it is now apparent that the work contains more dimensions. The reader need not categorize this story, either as an allegory or as an historical commentary. Indeed, there being evidence to support both interpretations, to do so would be a mistake. Allegorically, the story warns the reader that once one enters Hell, he is destined to participate in it forever. Historically, it paints an uniquely sympathetic portrait of British loyalists and their persecution at the hands of colonial patriots. In both respects, Hawthorne’s work has merit. Thus, in answer to the question previously posed, the reader is justified in interpreting “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” as an allegorical work. However, he is not justified in dismissing its historical virtues. Hawthorne’s story can and should be read carefully, with the reader appreciating its many dimensions.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Underlying Messges in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux

- A lot of the time when we look at the writers that wrote specifically during the romanticism era we see it vital to figure out the significant, every so often underlining, messages that an author may be trying to convey through their plot, character arrangement or even the scenes that the characters find themselves in. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux, is a great example of how an author tells more about the world around themselves through the stories they write. In this short story we are introduced to a young boy, Robin, who is in search of an older gentleman, Major Molineux, which he feels a strong connection to and is determined to find....   [tags: independence, innocence, security]

Powerful Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

My Kinsman, Major Molineux Essay

- In 1832, Nathaniel Hawthorne published “My Kinsman, Major Molineux.” The short story is an example of a fictional narrative set in a colonial port city. One of the major themes seen in the work is self-reliance, the ability to rely on one’s own efforts and abilities. The protagonist in the story, Robin, has just arrived in a colonial port city, seeking his kinsman, Major Molineux, an official in the Colonial government. The short story illustrates America, not only as the land of opportunity, but also as a land that is on the brink of war with England....   [tags: Short story, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Powerful Essays
1205 words (3.4 pages)

Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne My Kinsman, Major Molineux and Young Goodman Brown present Nathaniel Hawthorne’s belief in the universality of sin. These works provide numerous perspectives into the nature of the human condition and the individual’s role within it. Hawthorne fictionalizes a world where communion with man is essential for spiritual satisfaction. The main characters of these stories face moral dilemmas through their pursuit of human communion. Whether the problems are moral, psychological, or both, Hawthorne insists that the individual must come to affirm a tie with the procession of life, must come to achieve some sense of brotherhood of man....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Innocence Lost Essays]

Powerful Essays
1918 words (5.5 pages)

The American Dream in Franklin’s Autobiography and Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux

- Benjamin Franklin and Nathaniel Hawthorne were both very important to America’s early literature. Franklin’s “Autobiography” and Hawthorne’s “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” represents the extremes of leaving home. Franklin makes accomplishing the American dream of the self-made man look easy. Hawthorne, however, revises and critiques that dream, showing the harsh realities of the real world. Franklin reveals his life story as a way to show the people of America that determination, hard work, and intelligence lead to success, while Hawthorne describes the harsh world waiting once youth and innocence are gone....   [tags: My Kinsman, Major Molineux]

Free Essays
1358 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on The Problem of Knowing in My Kinsman, Major Molineux

- The Problem of Knowing in My Kinsman, Major Molineux Consider the meaning of ambiguousness: for something to have two contradictory meanings, with emphasis on the unknown. In, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," Nathaniel Hawthorne uses ambiguity, as well as other writing tools, to tell a pre-Revolutionary war story about a young man's journey from childhood innocence into the adult world of evils and reality. Hawthorne utilizes the power of setting, symbolism, and conflict, to name a few, to help portray the problem of knowing that is ever present through out the stories' entirety....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
667 words (1.9 pages)

Essay about An Analysis of Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux

- An Analysis of Hawthorne’s My Kinsman, Major Molineux In the early nineteenth century, America was undergoing profound changes in the political, economic, and social realms. The rise of international commerce and the development of industrialization displaced previous Republican ideologies that valued the community (Matthews 5). Instead, the market became the principal societal system. Significantly, the major agent driving this system was the individual. Thus, a new philosophy of liberal individualism was born that honored the rights and independence of the individual man....   [tags: My Kinsman Essays]

Powerful Essays
3940 words (11.3 pages)

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Symbolism Briefly Revealed Essays

- 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....   [tags: Literature]

Powerful Essays
1047 words (3 pages)

Symbolism in Writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay example

- 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....   [tags: American Literature]

Powerful Essays
873 words (2.5 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Other F-Word: Feminism in The Scarlet Letter The concept of feminism is defined as “political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster). Contrary to prior belief, it is not raising women above men. This was a fear held by many men in the nineteenth century. Therefore, Hawthorne was restricted in how he made the characters of The Scarlet Letter powerful within the society by what society feared. Throughout the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to write a novel that is ahead of its time by showing feminist tendencies through Hester, however the constraints of his society and that of Puritan society force his writing to portray women in a negative light....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Powerful Essays
990 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about Coping with Change in My Kinsman, Major Molineux

- Coping with Change in My Kinsman, Major Molineux My Kinsman, Major Molineux is about Robin a young and sheltered youth. This story opens with Robin trying to find his kinsman Major Molineux. He approaches many people trying to find his kinsman. Of all the people he approaches none are helpful in locating his kinsman. Finally he gets an answer and finds his kinsman to have been tarred and feathered. This is a shock to him, however, he deals with that surprise and goes on with his life. This story is about change and coping with the fact that change is inevitable....   [tags: Kinsman Molineux]

Free Essays
514 words (1.5 pages)