A Common Theme for Nathaniel Hawthorne
By: Leigha Williams

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BiographyNathaniel Hawthorne was an American author born in July of 1804. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts to parents, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Hathorne. His father, a sea captain, died when Nathaniel was very young, he was only four years old. After his father passed away, Nathaniel and his mother lived in seclusion. He remained closeted in an attic sanctuary for nearly 12 years. (Gaeddert 4) He only left the house in the evenings to go for a walk. Nathaniel was educated in Maine at the Bowdoin College from 1821-1824. Hawthorne married his wife, Sophia, in 1842. When he met Sophia, she was also in seclusion, bedridden, and suffering from headaches. The couple was introduced to one another by Sophia's sister. Sophia and Nathaniel had three children, Una, Julian and Rose. Una died at a young age, Julian wrote a book about his father, and Rose founded a religious order. Hawthorne wrote numerous books and stories throughout his 60 years. Some of his writings are very well known; The Scarlet Letter is one such piece. While not all of his works are as well known, he also wrote numerous short stories and published them in compilation books like, Twice Told Tales. He died when he was only 60 years old while he was away on a trip to the mountains with a friend.Common themes for Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many different pieces, yet you can almost always find some similarities in his themes. In most of his stories he capitalized on one or more themes. He apparently enjoyed writing about death, sin, faith, eternal life, and other themes somewhat related to these. He does an amazing job describing and setting the scene for the reader, though often times the setting is quite dark. In most of his writing, books and short stories, he seems to talk about the topics that other authors don't wish to speak about. While some may not enjoy reading about such topics, his huge success proves that fans of his work are unwaivering. Hawthorne received rave reviews from some very well known authors including Edgar Allen Poe. The fact that these themes appear in most of his pieces may leave you curious about what type of person Nathaniel Hawthorne was. Other than the fact that Hawthorne was raised in seclusion by his widowed mother, I was unable to find any other proof to lead me to believe that there was anything wrong with Hawthorne's mental status. I believe he was an author who was unafraid to write about topics which other authors tend to steer clear of.
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Twice Told TalesTwice Told Tales is a collection of short stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The compilation was published in two volumes and sold for one dollar. The first volume was published in 1837 and the second was published in 1842. While the collections weren't as wildly successful as some of Hawthorne's other pieces, the collections were praised by other authors in critical reviews. Even Edgar Allen Poe praised Hawthorne's stories in reviews.
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Beneath an Umbrella"Beneath an Umbrella" is a short story that was published in Nathaniel Hawthorne's compilation of short stories, Twice Told Tales. It is a very descriptive dark story about someone walking through their dreary, rainy town. After contemplating the decision to leave the warmth and comfort of their home, the main character describes the rainy scene as they walk throughout the town. The main character describes in great detail the effects the recent bouts of rain have had on the town. We are painted a picture of a gloomy, wet, muddy scene as they continue their trek. We encounter the people on the character's path through the eyes and perspective of the main character. The assumed circumstances of the passersby are presented to us and we are led to conclusions based only on the main character's perception. The surroundings seem to get darker and more dreary the further through town the character travels. The final person the character introduces us to is a man on the outskirts of town. The man is carrying a lantern and the character describes him as fearless as he walks out into the unknown. The character tells us the man is not fearful because he carries the lantern and that the lantern was lit using the fire in the comfort of his own home. He leads us to believe the comfort is what pushes the man into the unknown. Then the character begins describing his thoughts about people wandering through the stormy world and carrying the "lamp of faith". He tells us that by bearing that "lamp of faith", we will also be lead back home to Heaven. The story ends abruptly, leaving us to ponder several things. Why did the character feel they must venture out in to the poor weather? Why did the character make those assumptions about the people whose paths he crossed? Why did he seem so certain about the conclusion he had made about the man with the lantern?
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The Haunted MindAnother dark short story written by Hawthorne is "The Haunted Mind." "The Haunted Mind" was also published in Hawthorne's collection of short stories, Twice Told Tales. This story introduces us to a character that is lying in bed early one morning. The story takes us along with the character as they seem to drift between periods of sleep and wake. Hawthorne is yet again very descriptive as he sets the scene for the story. The character sinks down in to the bed, not ready yet to rise and start the impending day. We are then lead to believe that the character falls back to sleep and begins to dream. Then we begin to notice people passing by the characters bed, as though they are attending a funeral and viewing the deceased. As the people pass, the author uses them as symbols for regret, dissappointment, and other such emotions. Hawthorne uses this "dream" as a way to give us some insight in to the character's mind. While we begin to wonder why the character is having such dreams, is feeling such emotions, and if the dream is even real, the character wakes himself up. After a startling wake up, the character calms down and falls back to sleep. The story takes us in and out of several of the character's dreams. The story ends with the character falling asleep once again. The last dream we read about describes the character's spirit leaving his body and the soul entering heaven.
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Interesting Points to Ponder
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne often wrote about puritan and or religious themes. (Ex: The Scarlet Letter)
  • Hawthorne was a direct descendent of one of the judges responsible for the Salem Witch Trials. In an attempt to disassociate himself from his grandfather, he changed the spelling of his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne.
  • He was good friends with Herman Melville who wrote the book Moby Dick and dedicated it to Hawthorne. Nathaniel's father was a sea captain who died while at sea.
  • After having been buried on separate continents for over 140 years, Hawthorne, his wife and daughter were interred together. The remains of Hawthorne's wife and daughter were brought from London to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, where they are now all resting eternally together.
  • Hawthorne often had his wife Sophia read and give her opinion on his works. After he wrote The Blithdale Romance, he removed sections that she deemed too risque.

Works Cited

Gaeddert, Louann. A New England Love Story. The Dial Press, 1980. Print.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views; Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Chelsea House,1986. Print.








Amanda Blanton's Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Leigha Williams

I like the lay out of you wiki. It looks really nice. Biography paragraph shows a good time line of Hawthorne's life.
Theme Paragraph is written very well. You show his interests in what he like to write about. Shows Hawthorne wasn't afraid of writing about what he loved and not scared of what others thought of him. I wouldn't change or add anything to this section.
The the two short stories that are posted look very well writen as well. Each one to me is very discriptive. They seem to be very similar themes. I really like you wiki i think you did a great job. I wouldn't add or change anything unless you just really wanted to. I really like you "points to ponder" think that added a little more detail about Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Ashley Pearson's Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Leigha Williams

*What is the best content section?

- The Biography

*Which section needs the most work? What, specifically, do you suggest that the writer add or change?

- I think it all looks good so far

*Identify paragraphs/sections that would benefit by additional details or research.

- Common Themes for Hawthorne

*Is the topic covered in sufficient detail?
- I would say so


*Has the author created headings for each section of the page?


*How strong in the “opening”? How well does the first paragraph/section draw readers into the subject and make them want to read on?

-I'd say its good, its just the biography of the author

*Should any of the paragraphs or sections be ordered differently or should any of the paragraphs be moved to another section (different heading)?

- No

*Is there repetition (the same facts or ideas appear in more than one place)?

- No
*Comment on the overall look of the page.

- The overall look of the page is very good and organized

*Comment on the use of images and their placement.
- Very good use of images and their placement

*How well does the author use “white space”?

-Very well
The Research and Documentation Element:
*Has the author cited correctly when she/he uses material from a research source?
- N/A
*Has the author included a correct works cited page list at the end of the page?
- No 
Kelly Denton review of Leigha Williams Wiki Page:
Content: The content was very informative. I liked reading about "The Haunted Mind" the best.
Design: I liked the design of the page. It is difficult to save the design of alignment and font and spacing on the Wiki pages.
I liked the use of book covers for images.
Research: It looks like your documentation and research is thorough.
Organization: I would of liked to read a little summary of your page.
Overall Comment: I learned a lot about Hawthorne from your research. I would like to see you expand about the common themes by giving a quote by Poe or some backup.
We are all still working on our pages and I look forward to reading your conclusion. Goodluck.