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Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne - Literature

Quakers

Quakers: Introduction

Material prepared by:
David Donavel, Department of English
Masconomet Regional High School, Topsfield, MA

 

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England(courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 

Hawthorne's interest in the Puritan persecution of the Quakers grew, at least in part, out of the fact that his ancestor, William Hathorne, was one of those responsible for their mistreatment in the 1650's. It is William to whom Hawthorne alludes in "Young Goodman Brown" when the devil explains that he was present when Brown's grandfather "lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem," behavior that Hawthorne found deplorable. However, if he expresses frank sympathy with the Quakers in "Young Goodman Brown," "Main Street," and The Scarlet Letter, that feeling is mitigated in other tales such as "The Gentle Boy" where we see Catherine, the Quaker mother of Ibrahim, the gentle boy who gives the story its title, behaving with the same kind of intolerant fanaticism that so discouraged Hawthorne when displayed by the Puritans. There is, too, 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. It may well be that Hawthorne's aversion to fanaticism of any sort can be explained by his wry assessment in The House of the Seven Gables of the efforts of Cotton Mather and others to rid the colonies of those they perceived to be witches: "Since those days, no doubt, it had grown to be suspected, that, in consequence of an unfortunate overdoing of a work praiseworthy in itself, the proceedings against the witches had proved far less acceptable to the Beneficent Father than to that very Arch Enemy whom they were intended to distress and utterly overwhelm." It is likely that Hawthorne scented in any "unfortunate overdoing" the aroma of pride, that deadly sin that ruins so many of his characters.

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.

     

 

Link to full text of 

The House of the Seven Gables

 

  • 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.
  • 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

Original Documents Relating to Hawthorne and the Quakers

Title Page of \"The Gentle Boy\"
Title page of book edition of "The Gentle Boy" published by Wiley & Putnam containing drawing of Ibrahim by Sophia Peabody (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum)
The Gentle Boy
Dedication page of book edition of "The Gentle Boy" published by Wiley & Putnam containing drawing of Ibrahim by Sophia Peabody (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum)
  Excerpt from "Thomas Maule Sarah Kendall Maule," a biographical sketch by James Edward Maule 
SignatureHouse of Thomas Maule; Quaker Meeting House

Images Related to the Persecution of Quakers and Witches in Hawthorne

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox launched the Quaker movement in England in 1646; he sailed to American in 1671. Hawthorne depicts Fox in a favorable light in Grandfather's Chair, "Grimshawe," and "A Virtuoso's Collection." In "The Gentle Boy," however, Hawthorne points to the fanaticism of the Quakers. (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
Illustration by Sophia Peabody from <I>The Gentle Boy: A Thrice Told Tale</I>, 1839
Illustration by Sophia Peabody from The Gentle Boy: A Thrice Told Tale, 1839
This illustration of Ibrahim by Hawthorne's wife captures Ibrahim's vulnerability and gentleness. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
\"The Gentle Boy\"
"The Gentle Boy"
Cover of "The Gentle Boy" published in a separate volume by Weeks & Jordan in Boston and by Wiley & Putnam in New York and London in 1839 and illustrated by Sophia Peabody. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Title Page of \"The Gentle Boy\"
Title Page of "The Gentle Boy"
"The Gentle Boy" was published in a separate volume in 1839 by Weeks, Jordan & Co. in Boston and by Wiley & Putnam in New York and London and illustrated by Sophia Peabody. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Gentle Boy
The Gentle Boy
Dedication page of "The Gentle Boy" published in 1839 as a separate volume by Weeks & Jordan in Boston and Wiley & Putnam in New York and London and illustrated by Sophia Peabody. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Massacre of Ann Hutchinson
The Massacre of Ann Hutchinson
Illustration from A Popular History of the United States by William Cullen Bryant. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896.  (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
 (photography by Dan Popp)
Nicholas Phelps House
Nicholas Phelps House
Nicholas Phelps House. From Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. II. 
Thomas Maule's Signature
Thomas Maule's Signature
Thomas Maule Autograph. From Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. II. 
Thomas Maule House
Thomas Maule House
Thomas Maule House. From Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. II. 
The First Quaker Meeting House
From  chapter XV entitled \"Quaker Persecution\" Sidney Perley's <I>The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. II, 1926</I>
The First Quaker Meeting House From chapter XV entitled "Quaker Persecution" Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. II, 1926
Drawing (pencil sketch)by James Henry Emerton, 1861 (as meeting house stood in Gallows Hill pasture as a woodshed)  (special thanks to Salem Public Library.)
\"Whipping Post,\" Salem
"Whipping Post," Salem
An illustration of a whipping post from Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, 1924. The whipping post in Salem was set up in 1657. The constable was paid two shillings and six pence for each person he whipped. In November of 1667, constables were released from whipping, and the town agreed to hired a whipper.  
An illustration of a pillory from Sidney Perley's <I>The History of Salem Massachusetts</I>, 1924. Salem's pillory was set up in 1642.
An illustration of a pillory from Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, 1924. Salem's pillory was set up in 1642.
 (special thanks to Salem Public Library.)
\"Stocks\"
"Stocks"
An illustration of stocks from Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, 1924. Stocks were in use in Salem from the settlement's earliest days. They were located outside in the most conspicuous places. The use of stocks for public punishment ended in Salem in or before 1805.  
Samuel Shattock Gravestone
Samuel Shattock Gravestone
Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
 (photography by Dan Popp)
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of the Boston State House
Statue of Mary Dyer in front of Boston State House with inscription: Mary Dyer Quaker Witness for religious freedom Hanged on Boston Common 1660 "My life not availeth me in comparison to the liberty of the truth." 
Samuel Shattock Autograph
Samuel Shattock Autograph
Autograph of Samuel Shattock, Salem. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Massachusetts State House Across from the Boston Common
Massachusetts State House Across from the Boston Common
A statue of Mary Dyer stands in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston which was erected in 1798. Dyer was a Quaker who fought for religious freedom and was hanged on Boston Common in 1660.  
Rev. William Whitwell, 1781, Marblehead, Massachusetts
Rev. William Whitwell, 1781, Marblehead, Massachusetts
The portrait of Rev. Whitwell of Marblehead was carved by Daniel Hastings of Newton, Massachusetts.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
William Hathorne Autograph
William Hathorne Autograph
The Autograph of William Hathorne (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Critical Commentary Relating to Quakers in Hawthorne

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 
  • Excerpt from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Johnson(courtesy of Greenwood Press)
    It is useful to understand the background and history of Puritanism and Quakerism. This long passage by Claudia Durst Johnson is a helpful and clarifying summary.

     

  • Excerpt from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Johnson (courtesy of Greenwood Press
    This passage clarifies the differences between Puritan and Quaker beliefs and shows that the religious disagreements between the two had important political implications.

     

  • Excerpt from Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents by Claudia Johnson (courtesy of Greenwood Press
    Even after King Charles II prohibited the execution of Quakers, Puritans found ways to hound them out of Puritan settlements. Hawthorne's ancestor, William Hathorne, was active in their persecution. whipping postpillory ; stocks

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press)
    Margaret Moore vividly conveys the "bad blood" that existed between Quakers and Puritans and the kinds of cruel punishments Puritans visited upon Quakers who refused to comply with Puritan practices.

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press
    " . . . William Hathorne was 'a bitter persecutor' who ordered the whipping of Quaker Ann Coleman through Salem and two other towns. Nathaniel Hawthorne seemed haunted by his ancestor's association with the punishment of the Quaker, the 'strange people' who had the 'gift of a new idea'"(31).

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press
    "In 'Young Goodman Brown' the young protagonist talks of his ancestor who commanded the constable to lash 'the Quaker woman so smartly though the streets of Salem.' Hawthorne had read this detail of the whipping of Ann Coleman in William Sewel's The History of the People Called Quaker, which said that Major Hathorne had once opposed 'compulsion for conscience' but that his 'firm warrant' for whipping had almost cost Coleman's life" (32).

     

  • Excerpt from Margaret Moore unpublished manuscript (courtesy of Margaret Moore) 
    As this passage suggests, the Salem in which Hawthorne grew up was immensely rich in religious thinking and in religious controversy. It would have been nearly impossible for any educated, literate person to fail to be influenced by this ambience.

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press
    Margaret Moore makes it clear that the historical Thomas Maule is the model for the curmudgeonly Matthew Maule of The House of the Seven Gables.

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press
    Margaret Moore's claim that "Hawthorne's primary connection with Quaker persecution, however, was his descent from the Phelps family" (34) is interesting because he is also descended from William Hathorne, the Puritan well known for his persecution of the Quakers. Moore offers in this excerpt a brief account of the lives of Nicholas and Hannah Phelps, Hawthorne's ancestors.

     

  • Excerpt from Sidney Perley's The History of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, pp. 235-36. 1928 
    That Quakers were active in defending themselves against the persecution of the Puritans is clearly illustrated by this account of the advocacy of the elderly Samuel Shattock.

Multimedia Related to the Persecution of Quakers in Hawthorne

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 

No resources are available at this time. 

Websites Related to Quakers

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 

 

  • Excerpts from Mary Dyer and Companions, Martyrs
    This excerpt shows how Puritans persecuted Quakers throughout the 1650's and 1660's, with a particular focus on the Quaker woman, Mary Dyer.
    Full biography of Mary Dyer
  • Excerpts from Margaret Fell's Letter to the King on Persecution, 1660 
    This spirited letter was instrumental in putting the executions of Quakers in Massachusetts to an end. It did not, however, stop the persecution of Quakers in general. 
    Taken from the The Quaker Writings Home Page.

     

  • Thomas Maule is the model for old Matthew Maule of The House of the Seven Gables. It is of some interest to investigate the historical activities of Thomas Maule, a character with whom Hawthorne seems to have had some familiarity. Much more can be learned about him by visiting the following website: http://www.maulefamily.com/mauleb9.htm 
     
  • This brief account of the persecution of Quaker, Mary Dyer provides a sense of both the cruelty of the Puritan persecution of the Quakers and the tenacity with which some Quakers provoked that persecution. It is likely that Hawthorne would have found the obstinacy of both parties sadly disturbing.

Learning Activities Related to the Persecution of Quakers in Hawthorne

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 

1. Students interested in the creative process in general and, more specifically in how Hawthorne employed and transformed historical and familial information to compose the literature he wrote might be interested in re-reading the description of the circumstances that gave rise to old Matthew Maule's curse upon the Pyncheon family , reading the excerpt from the biography of Thomas Maule , and visiting the Maule Genealogy Website . Look also at the introduction to Young Goodman Brown . Then compose and essay in which you speculate on how Hawthorne's mind might have worked to combine these ingredients so that he was able to imagine old Matthew Maule of The House of the Seven Gables and/or consider what elements in your own history and family and present day surroundings might be forged into an engaging tale.

Lectures and Articles Related to Quakers

George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
 

"The Persecution of Quakers and Witches in 'The Gentle Boy,' 'Young Goodman Brown,' and Related Works," lecture by Dr. Buford Jones, Duke University, delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on October 13, 2000.

"Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" lecture by Dr. Rita Gollin, SUNY, Geneseo, delivered at Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000.

"Maine, Indian Land Speculation, and the Essex County Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692," article by Dr. Emerson W. Baker and Dr. James Kences from Maine History, volume 40, number 3, Fall 2001 (pp. 159-189). (Please do not cite or reproduce without permission of the authors; write to Professor Baker at: ebaker@maine.rr.com)