Nathaniel Hawthorne American Literature Analysis
Although Hawthorne is still required reading in many American literature courses in high schools and colleges, he is not especially popular with young readers. American fiction has changed greatly since his time. Popular twentieth and twenty-first century novelists make Hawthorne seem sententious and tedious, like some elderly relative who dominates the dinner-table conversation. Hawthorne’s style, once considered elegant and aristocratic, now seems artificial and needlessly complicated, the pernicious effect of the study of Latin. He is weak in dramatic construction; he avoids confrontations where confrontations seem obviously called for, as in the case of Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth at the conclusion of The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne has no qualms about stopping his narrative to present long descriptions of trees, flowers, streams, clouds, sunsets, houses, streets, pedestrians, and so forth. He lived at a time when photography was in its infancy and there was no way of reproducing photographs in books or magazines. (One of the principal characters in The House of the Seven Gables earns his living by making daguerreotypes, a primitive form of black-and-white photography.) Readers of Hawthorne’s time enjoyed verbal descriptions of beautiful landscapes or picturesque towns and cities; it was the only means they had of “seeing” them. Modern readers, who are saturated with mass media, have lost the ability to appreciate...
(The entire section is 5483 words.)
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