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Hawthorne's Depiction of Quakers in His Fiction

Hawthorne's Depiction of Quakers in His Fiction

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 
  • Excerpt from "The Gentle Boy"
    Hawthorne's hesitations about the "unbridled fanaticism" of the Quakers are evident in this passage in which Dorothy is taking in Ibrahim.
  • Excerpt from "The Gentle Boy"
    Hawthorne illustrates the cold cruelty of Puritans toward Quakers, a cruelty they evinced even in church.
  • Excerpt from "The Gentle Boy"
    Hawthorne criticizes the flinty cold-heartedness of the Puritans toward Quakers and those who would show them normal human affection and regard.

  • Excerpt from "The Gentle Boy"
    In this passage Puritan children act out the cruelty of their parents and physically attack Ibrahim, the gentle Quaker boy.

     

  • Excerpt from "The Gentle Boy"
    In this passage Hawthorne makes clear that the Quakers may have been fanatical and worthy, in his view, of some correction. Nevertheless, it also emerges that the cruelty of the Puritans toward them went beyond reasonable bounds.

     

    Link to full text of "The Gentle Boy"

     

  • Excerpt from "Main Street"
    Hawthorne's fundamental respect for the Quakers and their "new idea" along with his scorn for the suspicion with which his ancestors regarded Quakers comes through clearly in this passage.

     

    Link to full text of "Main-Street"

     

  • Excerpt from "Young Goodman Brown"
    Here, Young Goodman Brown discusses his Quaker-persecuting ancestor with the devil.

     

    Link to full text of "Young Goodman Brown"

     

  • Excerpt from "Mrs. Hutchinson,"
    There is an implied criticism of Quaker fanaticism in Hawthorne's sketch, "Mrs. Hutchinson" as the religious audacity of Antinomian Anne Hutchinson reflects the behavior Hawthorne rejects in Catherine in "The Gentle Boy." Hawthorne's provocative representation of religious dissident Anne Hutchinson, also, bears some remarkable similarities to Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter. His ambivalence toward Hester is mirrored in his admiration and censure of Mrs. Hutchinson, a figure who may have influenced him when he was composing The Scarlet Letter. In this passage from "Mrs. Hutchinson" Hawthorne imagines the trial of Anne Hutchinson by some of the leading religious figures of her time. While Hawthorne clearly admires Hutchinson’s spirit and intelligence, he deplores her tremendous pride and, one surmises, comes to agree with the judgment delivered upon her.

    Full text of "Mrs. Hutchinson"

     

  • Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Scarlet Letter
    Hawthorne's description of the Puritan persecution of the Quakers suggests that he must have regarded it as commonplace in the Boston of The Scarlet Letter.
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  • Excerpt from Chapter 6 of The Scarlet Letter
    This passage depicts Pearl's relationship to the other children of Puritan Boston and the reader learns that persecution of Quakers was so common as to become imitated by children in their play.

     

    Link to full text of The Scarlet Letter

     

  • Excerpt from The House of the Seven Gables, Chapter 1
    The circumstances surrounding the "haunting" of the House of the Seven Gables by the spirit of old Matthew Maule serve not only as an indictment of the greed of the Pyncheons, but also reflect the persecution of the actual historical Thomas Maule, who was an outspoken Quaker and a sometimes victim of Puritan intolerance.

  • Excerpt from The House of the Seven Gables, Chapter 13
    In this passage Hawthorne makes free use of the historical involvement of both Cotton Mather and Sir William Phips in the persecution of those accused of witchcraft. In The House of the Seven Gables, Matthew Maule is hung as a witch. His "original," Thomas Maule, a Quaker, was not hung, but rather harassed and even whipped by the Puritans of Salem

  • Link to full text of The House of the Seven Gables




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