ReflectionsNathanial Hawthorne. Considered to be one of the greatest American writers of the 19thcentury.
But did you know that he hated portraits, and it is now thought that he was amild manic-depressive? Born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. A decendant of along puritan line of Hathorne’s. His ancestry included his great-great grandfather, JohnHathorne who was a judge at the Salem witch trials 112 years before Nathanial was born. Judge John Hathorne charged many with the crime of witchcraft,and condemned them totheir deaths. Nathanial was embaressed by this and changed the spelling of his last namefrom Hathorne to Hawthorne. Alot of his family history, life experiences and where helived influenced his writing greatly.Order now
Hawthorne had a cousin, Susannah Ingersoll. When he was young, in Salem, hewould frequently visit her in her mansion, she lived there alone. The house had a secretstaircase and once had seven gables. This house, Nathanial visited in his youth, was hisinspiration for the house in his book ” The House Of The Seven Gables”.
The story of TheHouse Of The Seven Gables streches over two centuries. It’s the classic scenario of tworival families, in this case the Pyncheons ( weathly aristocratic puritans) and the Maules ( humbler paupers). The story of these two families begins with Matthew Maule, whoowned a certain amount of land and built himself a hut to live in, in this new puritansettlement. Maule was a hard working but obscure man, who was stubborn and protectedwhat was his.
His rival arrived at the settlement about 30 to 40 years after Maule hadbeen there. Colonel Pyncheon, an ambicious and determined man, had a high position inthe town. It was said that Colonel Pyncheon was very much for the execution of thosewho practiced witchcraft, and it was also said that he very strongly sought thecondemnation of Matthew Maule for being a wizard. Pyncheon did manage to haveMaule executed but not before Maule placed a curse on Pyncheon and his decendants.
These were Maules exact words : ” God, God will give him blood to drink !”Many of the characters in the book were influenced by actual people in andduring Nathanial’s life. For example : Colonel Pyncheon was based on The ReverendWentworth Upham, a Minister and mayor of Salem. He wrote the books : Lecture’s onWithcraft and History of Witchcraft and Salem Village. The Maule name was derivedfrom Thomas Maule, a Quaker merchant living in Salem at the time of the trials.
InNathanials American Notebooks he records that his great great grandfather JudgeHathorne, the judge in the witch trials, injured a neighbor named English once, whonever forgave him. Yet English’s daughter married Hathorne’s son. In the same way, thedecendants of the Pyncheons and the Maules finally unite in marraige at the end of thestory. The Pyncheon and the Maule who get married at the end are Phoebe and Holgrave. Phoebe is a smiling, public young woman.
Holgrave is a kind artist ( daguerreotypist )and is also the last desendant of Thomas Maule ( this is revealed at the end of the story). Itis believed that his cousin, Susannah Ingersoll, was who he had in mind when creatingthe character of Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon. There is also evidence that Hawthorne hadhimself in mind when creating the character of Holgrave, and of his wife,Sophia PeabodyHawthorne, when creating Phoebe. ***( Include other examples of the evidence thatsuggests this)***Ever since Hawthorne decided to become a writer he was determined to be asuccess.
He wrote for many years but none of his publications drew the attentionHawthorne wanted. At the time he wrote the House of the Seven Gables, he had justfinished with The Scarlett Letter which had won him much fame. At this timeHawthorne was preoocupied with his worth in America’s literary marketplace. Hepromised his publishers and friends that his next book would have a “prosperous close”,which meant something along the lines of a happy ending which did not come naturallyto Hawthorne. He found himself in a tight spot when trying to end the book, which tookhim several months to write. I believe it did the story more harm than good, becausewhile reading the final chapter, ” The Departure”, it felt as though the seriousness andmany of the true significances of parts of the story weren’t there anymore.
As though hejust ended the story that way to please the audience ( with a happy ending, everyonebecomes rich and moves onto a country house, Holgrave and Phoebe get married,and thebad guy Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon just dies. ). Hawthorne was a very insightful, yet confusing man. Some would even say hypocriticalbecause he would criticize or claim something and in the end, praise what he critisizedand claim the opposite of what he originally said. I, on the other hand wouldn’t say hewas a hypocrite, rather he was mysterious, not letting anyone know his true intentions butjust letting them interpret things their own way.
He incorporated this into much of hiswriting, also. In The House Of The Seven Gables Hawthorne gives us alot of details andsymbols but he never really tells us what they mean, leaving them to our owninterpretations. English