Nathaniel Hawthorne Questions and Answers

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How can the reader contrast tone and character depictions between the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving? Please provide examples of characters.

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Whereas Washington Irving's folk tales are characterized by a wry humor with touches of mystery and sentimentality, Nathaniel Hawthorne's narratives possess a darkly meditative and uncertain tone, often accompanied by didacticism, and sentimentality. And, yet, these authors frequently treat the same themes of hypocrisy, the foibles of human nature, and the rejection of strict religious intellect. In such tales as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip van Winkle," Irving humorously inverts the frighteningly Gothic tale with its haunted locale and superstitions and creates an allegory with characters who represent certain traits of human nature. In "The Devil and Tom Walker," for instance, Old Scratch represents evil while Tom Walker stands for religious hypocrisy as he is really an unscrupulous usurer.  In his treatment of human nature, Hawthorne does not usually employ allegory, although his short story "The Minister's Black Veil" is called "A Parable ."  Still, Hawthorne's parable...

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