Writing Style of
Nathaniel Hawthorne has a writing style that is very formal. It is full of symbolism, lengthy descriptions, recurring themes, and allegory.
The works produced by Nathaniel Hawthorne classified as being formal and specific to 17th century < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">New England dialect. A formal style is represented through wordy text and drawn out descriptions. An example of his in depth descriptions from The Scarlet Letter occurs when he provides a vivid description of the prison and its surroundings. Hawthorne dedicates an entire chapter just to describing the prison. Not only does the prison get a lengthy description, but so do the rest of the subjects of his writing. This element of his writing is based on the time period in which he wrote. During the era that Hawthorne was alive and actively writing, printers used to produce books were scarce and also less technical, so pictures weren’t common. Authors drew out their descriptions through text because there were no pictures to supply.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the dialogue remains relatively the same from character to character. It is observed in The Scarlet Letter that “the dialogue of Pearl, a young child, exhibited no difference from the dialogue of the other characters in the novel,” (http://www.e-scoala.ro/referate/engleza_nathaniel_hawthorne.html 12/2/07) contributing to her characterization as a child who possessed a maturity seemingly well beyond her years.
Similar themes are frequently used by Nathaniel Hawthorne. These themes are mostly about sin and troubled minds. In The Scarlet Letter the themes are sin, knowledge, and the human condition, along with the nature of evil. As a religious man, Hawthorne’s themes were structured around his beliefs. His Puritan ancestry also influenced his choice of theme and his writing style. Hawthorne is described as speaking “specifically to American issues” (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/scarlet/context.html 12/11/07) Hawthorne presents his themes through use of allegory. Allegory is a symbolic representation. In The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne’s themes manifest through the scarlet “A”, the “black man” and Prynne’s daughter Pearl, which are all symbolic representation or allegory of the theme of sin and evil.
Many of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novels take place in Puritan New England. The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and Ethan Brand are all stories written by Hawthorne based in colonial New England. This setting was inspired by the life of his great grandfather who migrated to New England.
Another element that defines Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing style is the genre of his work. Much of his work is classified as romance. The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, Fanshawe, and The Blithedale Romance are all romance stories. Romanticism is “an art style which emphasizes the personal, emotional and dramatic through the use of exotic, literary or historical subject matter,” (www.progressiveart.com/art_terms.htm). The Scarlet Letter fits the romance novel because it is solely based on the personal affairs of Hester Prynne, the emotions that are intertwine between Prynne, Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, and Pearl, and the subjects are expressed through dramatic events and historical settings.
Symbolism is a common device used by Hawthorne also. Symbolism is a way in which Hawthorne presents his modern themes. The Scarlet Letter is filled with symbolism. The Scarlet “A” that represents Prynne’s sin and shame, the meteor, Pearl, who is a symbol by being the product of Prynne’s sin, and the rosebush outside the prison are all symbols which present theme in their meanings.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing consists of symbolism, a wordy and prominent formal dialogue and text, common themes, and also a common setting to define his unique writing style.