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Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804. His family descended from the earliest settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; among his forebears was John Hathorne, one of the judges at the 1692 Salem witch trials. Throughout his life, Hawthorne was both fascinated and disturbed by his kinship with John Hawthorne. The theme of guilt is typical of Hawthorne. Melville said that Hawthorne was ashamed for what his ancestors had done in religious persecutions.
After college Hawthorne tried his had at writing, producing historical sketches and an anonymous novel, Fanshawe. Hawthorne also held positions as an editor and as a custom surveyor during this period. His growing relationship with the intellectual circle of Ralph Waldo Emerson led him to abandon his customs post for the utopian experiment at Brook Farm, a commune designed to promote economic self-sufficiency and transcendentalist principles. Transcendentalism was a religious and philosophical movement of the early 19th century that was dedicated to the belief that divinity manifest itself everywhere, particularly in the natural world. It also advocated a personalized, direct relationship with the divine in place of formalized, structure religion. This second transcendental idea is privileged in The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne"'"s relationship with Transcendentalism was ambiguous:
He disagree with it:
a) because of the very optimistic vision of Transcendentalists: the Party of Future. Hawthorne was more inclined in the contemplation of the past.
b) Hawthorne was more interested in arts as a technique in form than most transcendentalist artists.
c) He was more ambivalent and less didactic than transcendentalists, in The Scarlet Letter the narrator is always putting doubts in what he... [continues]
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(2005, 12). The Scarlet Letter Notes. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 12, 2005, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Scarlet-Letter-Notes-73915.html
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