The States. Thus the American literary tradition began

            The British colonies on the eastern coast of the United
States were highly influenced by English literature, before founding of the United
States. Thus the American literary tradition began as part of the boarder
tradition of English literature. However, modern American literature is considered
to be a separate literary tradition. Colonial American literature emerged from
the original US colonies during the period from 1607 to the late 1700s and was
largely influenced by British writers. 
Colonial American literature includes the writings of Mary Rowlandson,
William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet and John Winthrop. Religion is prominent in
Colonial American literature and it can be found mostly in puritan writings.
The puritans wrote about the religious foundations of many of their settlements,
especially the exodus from Britain, and employed the constant theme that god
should be Worshiped. Many of the puritan works were in poetry from. Anne Bradstreet’s
poetry the ‘Bay psalm book’ and Pastor Edward Taylor’s ‘preparatory mediations’
are good examples of religious texts of the era.

            Non puritan writers also used religion to show the
religious tension between the colonial settlers and Native Americans. American
writing consists of physical abuse, a lack of love, and a morbid character, all
across the board from the Native Americans to the colonists, revolutionaries,
explorers, to the civil war, the American renaissance, and beyond. American
literature exposed and conveyed a message of its own to the world, that are to
be found in the changed environment and the varying problems and ideals off
American life, more important than the changed ways of earning a living and the
difference in climate, animals, and scenery were the struggles leading to the
revolutionary war, the formation and guidance of the republic, and the civil
war. All these combined to give individuality to American thought and literature.

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            Many writers quoted about American literature. Louis
Auchincloss’s quoted

            ‘In that moment I think I learned the real tragedy of
living too long. It is not losing one’s health or one’s memory or even one’s
mind; it is losing one’s dignity’.

Don Delillo quoted,

            ‘We are not native. We have no generations of Americans behind
us. We have roots elsewhere. We are looking in from the outside. To me, that
seems to be perfectly natural’.

Lara Bush quoted,

            ‘There is nothing political about American literature’.

Allen Ginsburg quoted,

            ‘America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing’.

            The contemporary writes of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s are
Walter Scott, Herman Melville, James Fenimone Coopes, Stephen Crane’s, Maria
Edgeworth ,  Edger Allan Poe. Herman
Melville was very close to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Melville’s works read as
psychological probing into the subjective individual consciousness. His famous
works are Mardi and a Voyage Thither, Mody-Dick, The White Whale and Pierre.
Like Hawthrone before him, was concerned with 
the  problem of good and evil  but for Melville the problem of “iniquity “is
never resolved.  The next famous
contemporary writer of Hawthrone is James Fennimore Cooper, his famous works is
‘The Last of the Mohincans’, it’s a novel about race and difficulty of
overcoming racial divides. They originally lived in an area that covered a lot
of what is now New England part of Massachusetts. They major themes in the
novel is interracial love and friendship and the role of religion in
Wilderness. Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage’ is a war novel which
takes place during the American civil war. The main themes of this novel are
courage self-preservation, Manhood. This novel explains crane’s message that
war in altering the connection between society and individual rights,
undermines individual rights and thus prevents soldiers such as Fleming from
pursuing the American dream.

            Another well-known writer is Edgar Allen Poe, considered
part of the Romantic Movement, in the sub-genre of Dark Romanticism. He gained
worldwide fame for his dark, horror tales practically inventing the genre of
Gothic Literature, and he also credited for inventing  detective fiction genre, including ; The
Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and The Pendulum. Poe’s epic poem The
Raven was publishing in 1845 and he became an instant success.

            Hawthorne belongs to 19th century the
characteristics of the 19th century American novel differ base upon
the period to which is being referred to. There were three different writing
movements which took place during the 19th century: The Romantic
period, The American Renaissance, and the realist Movement (Realism). The main
characteristics of the Romantic period (1800-1860) were: The theme of the
personal journey in regards to independence Romantic wished to move “life” from
the corrupt urban areas to those of the nature-filled rural areas, and Romantic
associated the rural area with clarity, purity and independence and the Romance
valued intuition and feeling over reason, the power of imagination and viewed
life as it should be heavenly instead of how it really war. The American Renaissance(1840-1860)
was a period which instilled value in what it meant  to be 
America and the Renaissance 
writers  wanted  to examine 
the  possibilities associated  with human ability while  playing 
special attention  to an
individual’s ego. The American Renaissance writers desperately wanted to define
themselves as American but not British writers. The main movements of this
period were Rise of Feminism, rise of abolitionism and the necessities of
self-improvement. The last period of the 19th century was ‘The
Realist Movement’ (1855-1900).  In this
period’s writers wished to focus upon societies realism that problems exist
within the American culture. The Realists therefore, focused upon changing
specific social problems seen in America at the time. On the whole the Realists
focused on the ordinary human being and the trials and tribulations faced by
these individual as group.

            Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 at Salem,
Massachusetts. Hawthorne was a direct descendent of John Hathorne, puritan
justice of the peace. John Hathorne is best known for his role as the lead
judge in the Salem Witch Trials, in which he sentenced numerous innocent people
to death for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Nathaniel added a “w” to his last
name to distance himself from his infamous ancestor.  He was a Soldier, legislator, judge, he was a
ruler in the church he had all the puritanical traits, but good and evil.  The greater part of Nathaniel’s boyhood was
spent in Salem and it was only at the age of 14 in the  year 1818 that he went to live in the town of
Roymand along with his mother. Later in life, he spoke of this place as the one
where he first got his “cursed habits of solitude”. In 1821, in his seventieth
year he entered Bowdoin College, at Brunswick, Main. Though he did not prove
himself to be a brilliant student.  His main
interest however, lay in the field of writing. In a light vein he wrote his
mother, “I do not want to be a doctor and live by man’s diseases, nor a
minister to live by their sins nor a lawyer and live by their quarrels. So I
don’t see that there is anything left for me but to be an author”.  Hawthorne had already begun his writings but
the first evidence came in 1828, after his return to Salem, with the anonymous
publication, at his own expense, of his novel, ‘Fanshawe’. This book was based on Hawthorne’s experiences as a
Bowdoin College student in the early 1820s.  Printing of this book was paid for at
Hawthorne’s own expense. ‘Fanshawe’ generally received positive reviews, but
didn’t sell well. After its commercial failure, Hawthorne burned the unsold
copies. A dozen years after his death a copy was found and The Tale reissued by
James o& co.

            The period from 1825-1837 proved a formative period in
Hawthorne’s carrier. After the publication of Fanshawe he happily ht upon the
short tale for the exercise of his creative abilities. Between 1830 to 1852 he
wrote over a hundred stories which were published in three collections. ‘Twice told Tales’ (1837), ‘Mosses from an Old Manse’ and ‘The Show Image’. A fourth collection of
stories came out posthumously in ‘Sketches and Studies’ in 1883. In 1841
Hawthorne got a unique experience of communal living when he decided to join
the Brook farm at West Roxbury where some enlightened persons like the famous
Margaret Fuller, the transcendentalist, congregated to live close to nature. A
year earlier Hawthorne had lived in Boston Custom House and made use of his
experience as also of the communal living, for the purpose of his literary
writings. In July1842 he married a woman named Peabody and went with her to his
ancient village of concord near Boston.  Salem
custom house was very important place to him, because it’s helped him to write ‘Scarlet
Letter’. The summer of 1846 was Hawthorne a time of great diversity and
severity of emotion. He was depressed by his mother’s death and   also he frustrated by finance. Then he
began  to write longer stories like
‘Ethan  Brand'(1850), the account of a
lime burner whose  stone heart is a
symbol  of  the 
unpardonable sin of pride and ‘The Great Stone Face'(1850) in which
man’s rectitude proves  himself to be
his  own sought for hero, and the Scarlet
Letter'(1850) appeared and which made him famous and which  was afterwards recognized   as one
of the greatest American novels. When he visited Italy in 1859 he published his
well-known novel , ‘ The Marble Faun’. In the moral or symbolic tales of
Hawthorne  we always find an underlying
idea and the most notable among such 
tales are ‘The Hallow of the 
Three Hills’, ‘Young  Goodman
Brown’, Rappaccini’s Daughter’, ‘The Birth Mark’, and ‘The Artist of the
Beautiful’. In ‘The Birth Mark’ he exposes the struggle between man’s ceaseless
aspiration towards perfection, and the inherent, careless imperfections of his
nature.

            The main themes in Hawthorne works are isolation,
imperviousness, sin and guilt. Moral and religious concerns are almost central in
Hawthorne’s works; he explores the nature of existential guilt, relating it to
alienation, reunion and commitment. His novels reveal his preoccupation with
the theme of the solitary egotist. He is a great writer of romances; his
romances are about solitary people. They established “a neutral territory somewhere
between the real world and fairyland, where the actual and the Imaginary may
meet and each imbued itself with the nature of the other”. His style of writing
though quaint, is remarkable for its directness, clarity and firmness which are
qualities of modern prose. There is an infallible tightness of language in his
style. Like Ruskin and Dequiency, Hawthorne was a poet who preferred to express
himself in prose. In his irony, ambiguity and paradox he is a modern, in his
concern for morality he is a nineteenth century man. In his psychological
foundations too he is a modern. His ability at character drawing,  powerful way of unfolding a story and his
interest in the psychological analysis of his characters, his depiction of the
effect of sin on the  human psyche, his
tone of gloom, theme of alienation are some 
of the trends which are the 
hallmarks of the modern age. He was merely telling what is common to
human nature, not what is peculiar to himself. There is an iniversal appeal in
his novels. Even though he was a genius he had its limitations. His range was
deep but not wide, he had a brief period of important productiveness, but when
practical life claimed him, he was compelled, except for his journal to give up
writing altogether. In his later life, his own early works became his principal
sources. According to Edward Wagenknecht, “his prose is as fine as any we have
to show in America, but the eighteenth century still kept her hold upon him. He
could write stiffly and formally on occasion and he never attempted
characterization in terms of distinctive speech”. Browell said, “In a sense he
never meant anything. He drifed”. Woodberry complains, “at every stage he was
materially aided   by his friends in
obtaining employment and position”.

            When the Scarlet Letter was published in the spring of
1850, the initial print run of 2,500 copies sold out in only 10 days. However,
given the publicity that had surrounded his firing the years before,  readers were initially was interested in the
tale of Hester Prynne than they were in the novel’s introduction , ” The Custom
House” in which Hawthorne’s barbed  pen
Skewered his  political enemies. The  Introduction chapter that generally functions
as a preface , but more specifically, Hawthorne  accomplishes four significant goals: Outlines
autobiographical information about the author, describes the  conflict between the artistic impulse  and the commercial environment, defines the
romance novel, and of authenticates the basis of the novel by explaining that
he had discovered in the Salem Custom House the faded Scarlet A and the
parchment sheets that contained the 
historical manuscript  on which
the novel is based.

            The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel’s first romance and well
received novel. Over the course of twenty-four chapter, Hawthorne portrays the
fate of Hester Prynne, a woman who is condemned by puritan law to wear the
letter A on her bosom as a punishment for her adultery. Over the time she has
become one of the most intriguing and enigmatic female protagonist in American literature.
The story has numerous interpretations, like the social isolation, redemption, passion
and love, an individual struggling against society’s conventions, sin and more.
Puritanism played a major role in this novel. Throughout the novel Hawthorne
expressed his rejection of puritan’s rules and regulations and their way of
life. His habitual reference to the puritan’s as “Stern visage men” and
“unkindly- visage woman” sets the tone for his criticism of their way of life.
Hawthorne found the puritanistic life gloomy, joyless and rigid. The puritan
society claims to have been based on the highest principles of more idealism
but in reality it is lacking in the elementary Christian virtues of love
compassion. He also explores the extremely narrow attitude of the woman of a
puritan bias. In his novel the conversation of some of the female spectators of
Hester Prynne’s public disgrace clearly shows that they have an extremely
narrow attitude because they are dominated by puritan thinking.

            Carl Van Dorer is justified in holding the view, “Hawthorne’s
works shows that he was not a puritan at all, he was indeed, a rebel”. Another
critic tells us that Hawthorne always felt the religious system of Puritanism
to be hard, cold and confined. He would seek religious solace, but not in the
order whose embrace was deadly. So, he turned back his back upon the
religion   of his ancestor. He does not
spare his puritan forefathers. H e describes in his introduction of The Scarlet
Letter, “who came so early, with the Bible and his Sword….. Had all the puritan
traits both good and evil”, and persecuted dissidents ruthlessly. The whole
novel set in puritan Boston, Hawthorne created four unforgettable characters of
American fiction. The characters are Hester Prynne, condemned to wear a Scarlet
“A” on her breast in token of her sin adultery; the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale,
revered as saintly by his parishioners but torn by hidden guilt; their child
Pearl of great price and Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, who as he
probes into the hearts of those who have wronged him becomes the greatest
sinner of them. The letter in this novel had deep meaning, but the letter was
Scarlet, and Pearl, its embodiment, had no principle of being save the freedom
of broken law. He believed that man is not a machine. He has a soul, he
therefore cannot be understood. Often he presents the soul of good even in evil
things, such as in Hester in The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne discards the
conventional means of advancing action. For example Chillingworth, is finally
convinced of the  guilt of his victim not
by devices common in stories of infidelity , like a glove, a letter, or a
handkerchief, or a chance meeting but by a fantastic discovery of  an “A” on Dimmesdale’s breast.

            Herbert Gorman gave the view that characters of The
Scarlet Letter are symbolic figures, rather than the being of flesh and blood.
They are not made of flesh and blood but they are made of moonlight and
abstract qualities. The Scarlet Letter a tension or conflict between the
puritan and the romantic tendencies in seen throughout the novel. Hawthorne is
certainly responsive to the romantic temper; according to him the individual
has the right to be happy. Hawthorne was deeply influenced by the works of the
early New England divines, the puritans, the Bible and The Pilgrim’s progress.
Under such influences he felt evil to be a reality that could not be explained
away. The book is first of all concerned with “the ways of Sin”. Hawthorne is not
so concerned with the cause of sin as with the consequences of Sin. According
to him, Sin is relative, not absolute Sin is something subjective.

            The Dimmesdale feels isolated from God because he believes
that he has sinned against God. But Hester does not have any feeling of
isolation from god because she didn’t believe that her adulterous act was sin against
god. According to Hawthorne sin may produce a feeling of isolation, but it may
also produce understanding. It may cause suffering people, but it may also hind
them together. Hester is, in a way created by sin, the girl Pearl is the
product of Sin.

             The place Massachusetts
Bay was an important place in American literature especially for Scarlet
Letter. The literary movement known as Transcendentalism flourished during the
1830s and 1840s, primarily in Massachusetts. The Transcendentalists believed in
the power of the human mind to shape and determined experience. The
Transcendental view of religion stood in stark contrast to the practices of
groups like the Puritans, who believed in strict societal governance of
religion. Transcendentalism’s most famous works are Thoreau’s Walden (1854) and
Emerson’s Essays, most notably “Nature” (1836). Though Hawthorne is not
considered a Transcendentalist, many of the movement’s central tenets appear in
his work.   The root conception of the Scarlet Letter had
already been expressed in the tale of “Endicott and the Red Cross”, in which
John Endicott, a historical puritan fanatic, is shown as rousing the  people of New England against the England of
Charles-I and of Bishop laud, and tearing up the British Flag( The Red Cross)
in his anger with England. The story shows a religious dissident and a Roman
Catholic in the stocks and a woman wearing the letter “A” on her breast in the
crowd surrounding Endicott. This story was written in 1837, thirteen years after
The Scarlet Letter was published. This novel turns upon two deep- seated
fundamental struggles that between natural impulse   and
conscience, and that between the individual and the restraints of society. It’s
a story of guilty love and passion not Hawthorne aim.

            The Scarlet Letter begins with a prelude in which an
unnamed narrator explains the novel’s origin. While working at the Salem Custom
House (a tax collection agency), the narrator discovered in the attic a
manuscript accompanied by a beautiful Scarlet Letter “A”. After the narrator
lost his job, he decided to develop the story told in the manuscript into a
novel. The Scarlet Letter is that novel. The story begins as Hester Prynne
carrying an infant, named Pearl and standing in the Scaffold. A bright red “A”
is embroidered on her chest while a scaffold, Hester recognizes her estranged
husband, Chillingworth. He too recognizes her but pretends not to know her and
learns her story that she was married to an English scholar and fell in to sin,
committing the adultery that resulted in her baby and this Scarlet “A” on her
breast.  Her beloved Arthur Dimmesdale
commands Hester to reveal the man’s name, but she refuses and sends back to her
prison cell. Chillingworth pretend as a physician to finds her beloved. After
three years she moves to outskirts of Boston, near forest with her child and she
refuses to tell Pearl what the Scarlet Letter signifies. Dimmesdale is one of the
patients, who have fallen ill with heart trouble. Chillingworth takes care for
him full time and begins to suspect connection between Dimmesdale’s heart
trouble and Hester’s crime. Finally he discovers that Dimmesdale has a mark
over his heart that resembles Hester’s scarlet letter. So he decides to torture
Dimmesdale . Under Chillingworth’s cruel care, Dimmesdale’s health
deteriorates.  Hester pleads with
Chillingworth to stop to torturing him then she convinces Dimmesdale to flee
with her and Pearl to Europe, and they make plans to take a ship day after
Dimmesdale is scheduled to deliver an important sermon. While him preaching he
realizes he’s dying so he asks Hester and Pearl to join him and reveals the
relationship between Hester and him. He dies as Pearl kisses him for the first
time. Hester and pearl leave Boston. Chillingworth dies a year after Dimmesdale
and leaving Pearl a small fortune as an inheritance. Many years later Hester
returns her town and she still wears her letter “A”. Pearl has married. Hester
remains in Boston until her death and is buried alongside Dimmesdale. They shared
tombstone bears a letter “A”.

            The next two chapters going to talk about the theme of
Puritanism society, maternal ideal and Sin and Redemption. He also portrayed
the sexual passion in this novel. The Scarlet Letter compared to Moliere’s
comedies or the comedies of manners and Gustavo Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovery’.
Like these works this novel also shows a conflict between marriage and passion.
A critic Mark Van Doren calls The Scarlet Letter “one of the great love stories
of the world”. The women role in this novel is very essential part. Hester
Prynne is the central figure, the heroine of the novel. It is around her that
the whole plot revolves, it is on her coat the letter “A” is embroidered, it is
she who suffer most in the novel and she is the symbol of human suffering and
she evokes our sympathy and blow up our heart with pity. We can see it thoroughly
in chapter two.