illustrated portrait of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Why is Nathaniel Hawthorne considered a Romantic?

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is actually considered by critics at large to be a "Dark Romantic" rather than a Romantic, though of course it is recognised that this fits into the wider definition of Romanticism, though with subtle differences. Hawthorne, in some ways like "Young Goodman Brown," was a very handsome man with a loving wife. He earned great respect when he was middle-aged because of his writings. However, he became increasingly dissatisfied, remote and disappointing to his friends. It was as if his dark insights into the human heart had cast gloom into his own. His fiction, which has survived the changing tastes of many generations and is more admired today than when it was written, is fuelled by an awareness of the guilt that accompanies a Puritan conscience. This shadow of guilt appears to have darkened Hawthorne's life.

This, in a sense, helps us understand the meaning of the phrase "Dark Romantic," for Dark Romantics were concerned with the conflict between good and evil in all of us and focused on our capacity for evil and our inner sin.

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