Nathaniel Hawthorne Life Imitates Research Paper

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Yet the prime link between Hawthorne's life and this particular tale is made manifest in the preoccupation with the supernatural. In this story, the residents of the aforementioned domicile -- including the young man whose ambition seemingly infused the entire family, even its children -- are killed by a massive landslide on a mountain that, strangely enough, leaves their home untouched (the occupants are killed when they run outside in an attempt to protect themselves by a barrier formed for refuge for just such occurrences). The irony of this situation, when coupled with the description of the force of nature required to produce such an effect, certainly has preternatural connotations as the following quotation sufficiently demonstrates. "But, while they spoke…the wind, through the Notch, took a deeper and drearier sound. It seemed, as the fanciful stranger said, like the choral strain of the spirits of the blast, who, in old Indian times, had their dwelling among these mountains, and made their heights and recesses a sacred region. There was a wail, along the road, as if a funeral were passing (p. 257-258)."

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The connotations of the supernatural are certainly abundant in the preceding passage. It is not uncommon for people and authors, in particular, to associate wind with supernal or godly traits, although in the above quotation, the "drearier sound" of the wind cannot be mistaken for anything positive. Still, it is clearly being presented in the passage as a force beyond mere nature. Furthermore, the connotations of the Indian spirits referred to, which the stranger compares the sound of the wind to, are certainly supernatural in nature, which is reinforced by the fact that when they dwelled in the Notch, it was considered a "sacred" area. The wailing, the wind being described as a spirit which eventually does cause a rockslide to end the physical existence of the characters in "The Troubled Guest," definitely has preternatural associations which color the entire story, if not its ending.

Research Paper on Nathaniel Hawthorne Life Imitates Were Assignment

Hawthorne's preoccupation with his family's somewhat seedy history in the New England region of the country, which includes both Salem and New Hampshire, certainly has supernatural connotations as well. The author has referred to the perceived effect produced by the spirits of his relatives, and what he assumes would be their approbation or disapproval of his stature and life, on many an occasion -- which he very well may have internalized until his own demise. The following quotation from "The Custom House," which was written as an introduction The Scarlet Letter yet which stands on its own as one of Hawthorne's most personal literary endeavors, and in which Hawthorne imagines the ghosts of his ancestor's appraising his career path, sufficiently demonstrates the author's substantial association with supernatural forces. "What is he?" murmurs one gray shadow of my forefathers to the other. "A writer of story books! What kind of a business in life…may that be? Why, the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler!" Such are the compliments bandied between my great-grandsires and myself, across the gulf of time! (p. 13)."

To properly analyze this quotation, readers must remember that Hawthorne is alluding to ancient ancestors whom he never met, yet whom he imagines disapproving of both his occupation and of his own life. The forefathers mentioned are both John and William Hathorne, who have only existed in a spiritual form and in the form of memories during Nathaniel's lifetime. Subsequently, the author depicts their ghosts -- what is referred to in the quotation as a "gray shadow," discussing his career path. Readers should remember that this conversation, the scorn in which Hawthorne's forebears regard his (then) present activities, existed only in his head, which sufficiently proves Hawthorne's consideration of, if not outright preoccupation with, supernatural forces existing in non-physical forms, that apparently have significant concern for the affairs of the spiritual world. The fact that Hawthorne and these ghosts exist across the vast "gulf of time" does little to mitigate the influence which he feels from their perceived exertions regarding his life. Not surprisingly, then, Hawthorne wrote about such forces -- ghosts, spirits, the supernatural -- and their effects upon the rational, tangible physical plain.

Still, the conviction with which Hawthorne regarded the sway of supernatural forces was much more profound (and malignant even) than imagined conversations and unvoiced disapproval. In other passages from "The Custom House," the author alludes to an inherited sense of foreboding and a predilection for failure that arose directly as a result of many of the lesser popular (or more austere) actions of both John and William Hathorne, which the following quotation strongly implies. "I know not whether these ancestors of mine bethought themselves to repent, and ask pardon of heaven for their cruelties…At all events, I, the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse incurred upon them -- as I have heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous condition of the race, for many a long year back, would argue to exist -- may be now and henceforth be removed (p.12-13)" In this quotation, Hawthorne readily acknowledges the tangible effects of the supernatural forces which he believes existent. The fact that the vast majority of the descendents of the aforementioned Hathorne's had labored and died in obscurity can be attributed to a "curse" -- and one which was imposed due to the "cruelties" administered both John and William. This quotation sufficiently demonstrates that the supernatural forces which Hawthorne wrote about he certainly perceived to be existent and accounting for a considerable amount of his fate -- as they would for many of the characters in his written works.

Another defining characteristic of Hawthorne's literary efforts that would foreshadow his own life was the propensity for characters in his story to have outward manifestations of the inner turmoil and anguish which they would feel for a variety of reasons. Most frequently those reasons would include some sort of surreptitious sin as was the case in "The Minister's Black Veil" and in The Scarlet Letter. While Dimmesdale is perhaps the most quintessential character for showing the outward manifestations of inner conflict and shame, becoming physically weakened and significantly less effervescent until he eventually died, Mr. Hooper, the central protagonist in "The Minister's Black Veil," provides an excellent example of this proclivity in Hawthorne's writing as well. There are a number of similarities between the Mr. Hooper and Hawthorne, and the former is described in the short story as being melancholy, which Hawthorne certainly must have been during his bouts with depression. Still, the remarkable outward manifestation of the inner anxiety of some unspoken sin that causes Mr. Cooper to walk about in a permanent black veil -- and which more than likely had something to do with the death of the woman whose funeral occurred on the opening day of the story -- drastically affected him physically, as the following quotation, in which he attends a wedding, sufficiently proves. "At that instant, catching a glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others. His frame shuddered -- his lips grew white -- he spilt the untasted wine upon the carpet -- and rushed forth into the darkness (p. 30)."

The physical effects of the source of shame and despair which force Mr. Hooper to don his black veil are readily apparent. The minister virtually loses control of his body at the mere site of it -- and the reminder of the unspeakable act which it is a symbol of. His entire body "shuddered," while his subsequent spilling of wine denotes a significant loss of composure, coordination, and, to a lesser extent, of bodily functions. These are all physical ramifications of the inner strain, the untold agony, that grip a number of Hawthorne's characters, and which would come to grip the author himself in his final days.

Hawthorne may have been able to endure the torment of the misdeeds of his ancestor's, the curse which they placed upon his lineage in the years following the existence of both John and William. Yet he was able to do so at a price, and one which nearly finished him after a sever affliction overtook his daughter Una while vacationing through Italy, as the following quotations from Clark's essay indicates. "Hawthorne had just begun to write The Marble Faun when Una was struck down by a fever that almost killed her. After four months she was well enough for the Hawthornes to resume a social life but the joys of Italy had been much tarnished…Hawthorne had started to show signs of fatigue and weight loss after Una's brush with death." It is important to realize that the "signs" which Hawthorne began to show were external ones, similar to that suffered by Hooper and Dimmesdale. The fatigue Hawthorne began to palpably evince in his physical body, and as typified by weight… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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