Nathanial Hawthorne. Considered to be one of the greatest American writers of the 19th century. But did you know that he hated portraits, and it is now thought that he was a mild manic-depressive? Born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. A decendant of a long puritan line of Hathorne’s. His ancestry included his great-great grandfather, John Hathorne 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 to their deaths.
Nathanial was embaressed by this and changed the spelling of his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne. Alot of his family history, life experiences and where he lived influenced his writing greatly. Hawthorne had a cousin, Susannah Ingersoll. When he was young, in Salem, he would frequently visit her in her mansion, she lived there alone. The house had a secret staircase and once had seven gables. This house, Nathanial visited in his youth, was his inspiration for the house in his book ” The House Of The Seven Gables”. The story of The House Of The Seven Gables streches over two centuries.
It’s the classic scenario of two rival families, in this case the Pyncheons ( weathly aristocratic puritans) and the Maules ( humbler paupers). The story of these two families begins with Matthew Maule, who owned a certain amount of land and built himself a hut to live in, in this new puritan settlement. Maule was a hard working but obscure man, who was stubborn and protected what was his. His rival arrived at the settlement about 30 to 40 years after Maule had been there. Colonel Pyncheon, an ambicious and determined man, had a high position in he town.
It was said that Colonel Pyncheon was very much for the execution of those who practiced witchcraft, and it was also said that he very strongly sought the condemnation of Matthew Maule for being a wizard. Pyncheon did manage to have Maule 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 and during Nathanial’s life. For example : Colonel Pyncheon was based on The Reverend
Wentworth Upham, a Minister and mayor of Salem. He wrote the books : Lecture’s on Withcraft and History of Witchcraft and Salem Village. The Maule name was derived from Thomas Maule, a Quaker merchant living in Salem at the time of the trials. In Nathanials American Notebooks he records that his great great grandfather Judge Hathorne, the judge in the witch trials, injured a neighbor named English once, who never forgave him. Yet English’s daughter married Hathorne’s son. In the same way, the decendants of the Pyncheons and the Maules finally unite in marraige at the end of the story.
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). It is believed that his cousin, Susannah Ingersoll, was who he had in mind when creating the character of Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon. There is also evidence that Hawthorne had himself in mind when creating the character of Holgrave, and of his wife,Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, when creating Phoebe. **( Include other examples of the evidence that uggests this)*** Ever since Hawthorne decided to become a writer he was determined to be a success.
He wrote for many years but none of his publications drew the attention Hawthorne wanted. At the time he wrote the House of the Seven Gables, he had just finished with The Scarlett Letter which had won him much fame. At this time Hawthorne was preoocupied with his worth in America’s literary marketplace. He promised 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 naturally to Hawthorne.
He found himself in a tight spot when trying to end the book, which took him several months to write. I believe it did the story more harm than good, because while reading the final chapter, ” The Departure”, it felt as though the seriousness and many of the true significances of parts of the story weren’t there anymore. As though he just ended the story that way to please the audience ( with a happy ending, everyone becomes rich and moves onto a country house, Holgrave and Phoebe get married,and the bad guy Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon just dies. ). Hawthorne was a very insightful, yet confusing man.
Some would even say hypocritical because he would criticize or claim something and in the end, praise what he critisized and claim the opposite of what he originally said. I, on the other hand wouldn’t say he was a hypocrite, rather he was mysterious, not letting anyone know his true intentions but just letting them interpret things their own way. He incorporated this into much of his writing, also. In The House Of The Seven Gables Hawthorne gives us alot of details and symbols but he never really tells us what they mean, leaving them to our own interpretations.