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Literature Related to A Framework of Faith

Literature Related to A Framework of Faith

Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem
Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
  • Excerpt from "David Swan"
    This passage from "David Swan" points to Hawthorne's belief in a "superintending Providence" which makes both "regularity" and "foresight" available to human beings.

    Full text of "David Swan"
  • Excerpt from "Fancy's Show-Box "
    In this passage Hawthorne proclaims a fellowship with the guiltiest among us and, at the same time, strongly suggests that harsh judgment of one mortal by another would be among the most serious of moral errors. This attitude may account for his unwillingness to adopt a doctrinaire posture in his own life despite his apparent deep interest in religious matters.

    Full text of "Fancy's Show-Box"
  • Excerpt from "Sunday at Home"
    While Hawthorne almost never attended church, in this passage he claims the central-even holy-importance of a church in a community.

  • Excerpt from "Sunday at Home"
    In this passage Hawthorne admits to a kind of theological confusion, one in which his mind seems to be in frequent disagreement with his heart. It may be that this sort of thoughtful bewilderment contributed to his reluctance to join any single religion.


  • Excerpt from "Sunday at Home"
    Despite the fact that Hawthorne did not belong to any church, he apparently still kept the Sabbath and in this passage acknowledges his "instinct of faith."


    Full text of "Sunday at Home"


  • Excerpt from "The Village Uncle"
    While the voice of the Uncle who narrates this story is probably not the voice of Hawthorne himself, it is not unlikely that the author shared some of the Uncle's perceptions. The elderly man's sense of a divine presence even in something as simple as a pool of water seems consistent with Hawthorne's faith in Providence.


    Full text of "The Village Uncle"


  • Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Scarlet Letter, "The Prison Door"
    Hawthorne's admiration for Anne Hutchinson comes across clearly in this passage, as does the suggestion that the Hester Prynne and Anne Hutchinson are in important ways similar to each other.

  • Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Scarlet Letter, "The Market Place"
    Hester's, beauty, humility, and damaging pride come through in this description of her as she walks to the scaffold early in the novel. In demeanor and attitude, she reminds one of Hawthorne's sketch of the Antinomian, Anne Hutchinson.

  • Excerpt from Chapter 13 of The Scarlet Letter, "Another View of Hester"
    In this passage Hester is represented as a woman of an independence of mind equal to that of religious dissident Anne Hutchinson. It is probable that Hawthorne would have seen this quality simultaneously as a great strength and a terrible fault.

    Full text of The Scarlet Letter


  • Excerpt from "Mrs. Hutchinson,"
    Hawthorne's provocative representation of religious dissident Anne Hutchinson 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 "The Hall of Fantasy"
    Hawthorne expresses his delight in the realized, as opposed to idealized, earth and articulates a mild opposition to the Millerite idea that the world is coming to a hasty end. He wants the world to continue, but will not insist upon that, trusting instead to Providence.

  • Excerpt from "The Hall of Fantasy"
    It may be that Hawthorne's failure to take up the cause of the abolitionists is related to his failure to subscribe to any single religious doctrine. This passage suggests that the abolitionist may be as foolish as the man who has placed his faith in a potato. This is not to suggest that Hawthorne was in favor of slavery, but rather that he believed that adamant adherence to any doctrine, however benign, was dangerous. It is useful to compare this idea with his "moralizing" about the father's good intentions in "The Snow Image."

    Full text of "The Hall of Fantasy"


  • Excerpt from "Monsieur Du Miroir"
    Here Hawthorne speaks to his reflection as if it were another person, one with access to the deepest of life's mysteries and suggests that, in the face of his longing to know more than he can, even that "unreal image" might smile at the vanity of the questions. Hawthorne suggests that our longing to understand the mysteries of human experience is not likely to be fulfilled and that "Divine Intelligence" has provided us with what we need to know.

    Full text of "Monsieur Du Miroir"  

  • Excerpt from "The Old Manse"
    In this passage Hawthorne makes it clear that formalized books of religion have so little bearing on the attainment of grace as to be actually impertinent. This skepticism about the value of formalized theology may account in part for Hawthorne's unwillingness to subscribe to any one religious doctrine.

    Full text of "The Old Manse"


  • Excerpt from "The Procession of Life"
    In this darkly optimistic passage Hawthorne contends that we are all brothers because Death is the great leveler, the true leader of the Procession of Life, but that even death knows not where it leads. That knowledge is God's alone and it is, consequently, in our interest to have faith God will not abandon us, even as we die.

  • Excerpt from "The Procession of Life"
    In this passage Hawthorne shows how sectarian adherence blinds one to the virtue in others-even if the sectarian is virtuous himself. Assuming that this is an expression of his genuine sentiments, it is not difficult to understand his failure to adhere to any one religious teaching.

    Full text of "The Procession of Life"


  • Excerpt from "The Snow Image"
    After the father's insistence on bringing the living snow image into the presence of the fiery stove, which has melted her to nothing, Hawthorne "moralizes" upon the event and suggests that judgments, even those made with the best intentions, need to be made carefully as an "element of good to one may prove absolute mischief to another." This idea is consistent with Hawthorne's skepticism of those who, like Young Goodman Brown, operate out of a judgmental certainty and with his own reluctance to adopt any doctrinaire postures in his private life. It is helpful to compare this passage with Hawthorne's comments on abolitionists in "The Hall of Fantasy."

    Full text of "The Snow Image"


  • Excerpt from "The Great Stone Face"
    Ernest, the model of virtue in this tale, abandons his own idea of what the great redeeming personage would be like in favor of accepting what appears to be the work of Providence. Hawthorne thereby suggests that true belief entails, at least in part, the setting aside of our own wishes and conceptions in favor of those of a higher power.

    Full text of "The Great Stone Face"


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