Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In what ways was Nathaniel Hawthorne connected to the Salem Witch Trials?

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Hawthorne wasn't just related to the judge of the Salem witch trials, but also to some of the trials' victims, such as John Proctor, and accusers such as Sarah Phelps. Much of Hawthorne's writing—The Scarlet Letter leaps to mind—can be seen as a way of dealing with the inherited guilt he clearly felt over his ancestors' involvement in such a dark chapter of American history. (It's no accident that sin and guilt are common themes in Hawthorne's work.)

It must have seemed to Nathaniel that his family name was cursed as a result of his ancestors' involvement in the Salem witch trials (even after he added a "w" to Hathorne). And so he sought to break that curse by...

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