How does Hawthorne's Transcendentalism affect The Scarlet Letter?
A contemporary of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, founders of the Transcendental movement, Nathaniel Hawthorne associated with them, perhaps, in an effort to discover more meaning behind the shadows of life that he so often perceived. A movement in the Romantic tradition, Transcendentalism holds that every individual can reach ultimate truths through reason and sensory experience. Here are its basic tenets:
- In every aspect of Nature, God is present--even in every human being.
- Everyone is capable of learning about God through intuition.
- In all its manifestations, Nature is symbolic of the spirit.
- The world is good, and evil is nonexistent.
While Hawthorne rejected much of this ideology, finding it too optimistic, he was partially influenced. Tenets 1 and 3 seem the ones more closely embraced by Hawthorne.
- Tenet 1
Shrouded by his Puritan guilt for the transgressions of his ancestors, Hawthorne sought to define humans, not in two groups--the elect and the damned--as the Calvinists...
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