Style Analysis
An analysis of the style of Nathaniel Hawthorne


Nathaniel Hawthorne was and early American author who greatly contributed to the evolution of American literature. He grew up in New England in the 19th century. Hawthorne was in a long line of Puritan descendants which sparked his interest in writing about the Puritan way of life.

            Hawthorne’s writing, when compared to modern literature, was considered very outdated, though through his crafty use of allegory and symbolism, he conveyed modern themes of psychology and human nature. Hawthorne wrote lengthy and detailed descriptions of images in his work because his audience had no means of seeing the setting. One example of such descriptions is the way he describes the prison door and it’s surroundings in The Scarlet Letter.

            Hawthorne’s writing was and still is considered very formal. (“HARDCORE FORMAL” if you are Ms. Powell.) This overblown dialogue was evident in The Scarlet Letter, in Pearl’s dialogue. She spoke far beyond her years, and spoke just as well, and just as intelligently as her adults. Hawthorn adopted this writing style from a British writer, Sir Walter Scott, whose work was popular in Great Britain as well as the United States. 

            Although Hawthorne’s writing was overly formal it was an excellent description for human emotion. Also, Hawthorne’s focused more on a character’s inner struggle, or central theme. One example, in The Scarlet Letter was, the entire novel was almost entirely based on the commandment “Thou shall not commit adultery.”

            Though Hawthorne’s writing was dated for his time he used modern themes within it. One reoccurring theme in his work is human nature. This was evident in another one of his novels, Young Goodman Brown, the novels main character cannot resist temptation. Hawthorne was also and romance novelist, dealing with: love, desire, and romance.

            Many of Hawthorne’s characters in his novels could have been influenced by Hawthorne’s own religious beliefs. When writing The Scarlet Letter, it could be argued that the Puritan way of life could be in the story because of Hawthorne’s background.

            Symbolism is also a literary device that is often used in his writing. An evident symbol is in The Scarlet Letter is Pearl. She is the living product of adultery committed by Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale.