Impact of Poe and Hawthorne
The American Renaissance was a revolutionary time for American literature. It introduced new styles of writing that lead to the diverging from Puritan writing to the new Transcendentalism, Romanticism, and Dark Romanticism. Dark Romanticism was different than Transcendentalism and Romanticism. It fascinated its readers with dark and morbid topics such as secret sin, evil, and spiritual symbols. These factors are what kept, and keeps, Dark Romanticism alive in American literature. The two writers who excelled in writing Dark Romantic stories are Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. Both authors changed the way literature was written and enchanted their audiences with their writing abilities and storytelling. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe both have made an impact on our literary heritage and continue to do so because they use unique styles of writings that branch off from Transcendentalism and Romanticism which creates a compelling piece of work for their audiences.
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe both used writing techniques that were different than other authors. They both wrote about human nature in a way that was never explored by other authors. Poe and Hawthorne’s writings paint the image of humanity being dark and constantly plagued by the sins of the world and this belief can be seen in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”: “Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness” (Norton 353). This imagery is what intrigues the readers of Poe and Hawthorne’s work. Imagery as dark and morbid as seen in the works of Poe and Hawthorne is something uniquely theirs and it continues to last as the heritage of American literature continue to grow.
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By writing about these dark topics, Poe and Hawthorne introduce their readers to something unknown to them before. The readers see that not everything in human nature is good and pure, but there are aspects that are dark and twisted. These matters intrigued their readers in the 1800s and continues to intrigue readers today. Unlike transcendentalism and romanticism, Poe and Hawthorne’s writings do not contain an optimistic view. Instead, they focus on a melancholy view of the world. This gave readers a different view to the world around them. They also both focused heavily on the symbols in their writings. These symbols can be seen in the veil in Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” and the symbol of eyes in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”. They use these symbols to shed light on darker aspects of humanity, such as revealed secret sins in Hawthorne’s work and the loss of one’s soul or spirit in Poe’s. These writing techniques is not the only reason Poe and Hawthorne’s works have shaped American literature, both writers embraced their individuality and refused to conform to the molds that were set by others.
Nathaniel Hawthorne created works of literature that did not fit into either transcendentalism or romanticism. Hawthorne called his work romances opposed to novels because it gave him more freedom to write his truth: “Hawthorne, that is to say, never abandoned his responsibility to tell the truth, but he refused to be limited to “minute fidelity” and the “ordinary course” of life—he insisted on telling the truth under circumstances of his own choosing” (Lynch 5). This article shows just how much influence Hawthorne’s individuality had on his works. He chooses his truths and wrote about them without fear of not fitting the previously set writing mold. Hawthorne breaking this mold is what led to “the widely help belief that he was the most significant fiction writer of the antebellum period” and is what continues to keep his works relevant today (Norton 328).
Edgar Allan Poe, much like Nathanial Hawthorne, did not fit into what people at the time would consider “normal” writing categories. Poe himself “deliberately [obscures] his intentions” (Norton 607). Poe does this in order to allow his readers to create their own meanings and themes of his writings. Unlike other writers who have specific themes and ideas shown in their works, Poe leaves his open to interpretations for each individual who reads his works. Poe even leaves the setting in his works ambiguous to allow for a “universality of theme and effect” (Hutchisson). By allowing the readers to create their own experience while they read Poe’s poems and stories, Poe is creating an everlasting work. This meaning that no matter the amount of times a piece of Poe’s work is studied or analyzed, there will always be someone who reads the work differently and allows for a whole new analysis to take place. This style is uniquely related to Poe’s individuality and it changed American literature and influenced various poets and writers and continues to do so.
Edgar Allan Poe and Nathanial Hawthorne were both amazing writers who changed the structure of American literature in their time. Their work was different, unique, and sparked fascination in those who read and enjoys their work. Both authors have managed to create pieces of literature that stand the test of time and continue to be works that people find interesting and intriguing. Nathanial Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe manage to accomplish this feat by using a unique writing style and their own individuality to create pieces of work that is compelling to the readers.