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Hawthorne and a Framework of Faith

Excerpt from Margaret Moore's The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne (courtesy of the University of Missouri Press)

Margaret Moore powerfully suggests that while Hawthorne avoided any specific religious affiliation, his prose and his thinking were permeated with religious ideas.

Ever since the sea of faith began its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, the importance of the Christian religion has been debated or ignored. Scholars have drawn many conclusions as to Hawthorne's religious faith, and few seem to agree. What seems to me to be clear is that in the Salem he knew he inhaled a great many doctrines, but found little meaning in such precise formulations. In this he agreed with Job, who finally admitted that he was finite and had uttered things 'too wonderful for me' (42:3). But Hawthorne also absorbed the conviction that religion was significant. Secular Hawthorne's writings are not; they exude an 'instinct of faith' that may be fractured, but that retains a vitality reacting to or drawn from the very air of Salem (122).

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10169/

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