My Kinsman, Major Molineux

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Mr. Kinsman, Major Molineux

Nathaniel Hawthorne was very important to America’s early literature. His story “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” represents the extremes of leaving home with the intentions of having others to help you to make your way. He gives a gritty account of what was believed to be the American dream by showing the harsh realities of the real world. He also describes the harsh world waiting once your youth and innocence are gone.

Hawthorne’s main character, Robin, leaves his home with the idea of depending on his second cousin. Robin journeys from his family’s country farm to the city in search of his kinsman, Major Molineux, with hopes that his kinsman will help him get started in life. It was determined that Robin should profit by his kinsman’s generous intentions. He stages Robin’s arrival to town at night, symbolizing the darkness of the harsh world. Robin also encounters nothing but wretched inhabitants of the town as he searches for his kinsman. He feels no joy as he journeys through the town, and he even experiences fear at all of the strange things that he encounters. He is also poor and cannot afford to feed himself; “Hunger pleaded loudly within him.” (p. 2406) Robin’s arrival to town is gloomy because Hawthorne wants the American people to know what they will encounter when they leave the comforts of home. Hawthorne shows that leaving home is a time of loss. He uses Robin leaving the country for the city as a sign of the loss of youth and innocence and the gain of drudgery adulthood. Robin’s initiation into adult life comes at the point where he joins the crowd and laughs at his kinsman. Hawthorne sees the loss of innocence as a bad thing and that a person should hang on to that innocence as long as possible. Leaving home and family is not freedom to Hawthorne. He believes once a person enters adulthood that they are chained to the drudgery of the real world, a world where dreams are shattered. Robin’s dreams of a new life...
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