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Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne - Literature

Framework of Faith

A Framework of Faith : Introduction

Material prepared by:
John W. Stuart, Ph.D., Department of English 
Manchester-Essex Regional High School, Manchester, MA
David Donavel, Department of English
Masconomet Regional High School, Topsfield, MA

 

 

Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem
Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem(photography by Bruce Hibbard)
 

Born into a former bastion of Puritanism and descended from prominent leaders of that faith, Hawthorne structured so much of his fiction upon issues related to New England Calvinist theology that he and his environment appear inseparable. While not a regular churchgoer himself, Hawthorne wrestled passionately with the religious fundamentalism of seventeenth century Massachusetts as well as its more secular manifestations in the nineteenth century. Hawthorne's Salem was drenched in history and religion. He met Sophia Peabody, the woman who would become his wife, in a house directly adjacent to the Charter Street Burying ground, the final resting place of some of his ancestors, including the notorious John Hathorne, one of the judges at the witch trials of 1692. The very fireback used in the sitting room of what is now known as The House of the Seven Gables, once the home of Susan Ingersoll, one of Hawthorne's relatives, depicts a scene from the Genesis tale of the fall of Adam and Eve. It would have been impossible for any sensitive and intelligent person growing up in Salem in the first half of the nineteenth century to have escaped either a sense of the past or the influence of Salem's religious milieu.

 

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"

Original Documents Relating to Hawthorne and his Framework of Faith

Document from Salem Witch Trials signed by John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin
Document with John Hathorne's signature
Nathaniel Hawthorne's ancestor, John Hathorne, was active in the persecution of accused witches.(courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum)

 

\"A Modell of Christian Charity\" in The Winthrop Papers
Excerpt from "A Model of Christian Charity" by John Winthrop (courtesy of The Winthrop Society
John Winthrop's famous address would have been readily available to Hawthorne. In this passage, Winthrop offers a divine justification for the stratification of society that recalls what Claudia Durst Johnson writes about Hawthorne's vision of social harmony.
\"A Modell of Christian Charity\" in The Winthrop Papers
Excerpt from "A Model of Christian Charity" by John Winthrop (courtesy of The Winthrop Society
In this passage John Winthrop offers the idea that Love is the "bond of perfection," an idea that expresses the essential unity of all men, a unity that can and often is willfully violated. Hawthorne characters like Arthur Dimmesdale, Ethan Brand, Young Goodman Brown and others are examples of human beings who deny this unity with others due to an overwhelming sense of pride or a destructive concern with self. Winthrop, as the passage suggests, understood this as the sin of Adam, or original sin.
\"A Modell of Christian Charity\" in The Winthrop Papers
Excerpt from "A Model of Christian Charity" by John Winthrop (courtesy of The Winthrop Society
In this famous passage Winthrop exhorts his listeners to follow with whole hearts the spirit of Christian love and unity for they are to be a shining example for the rest of mankind. It is useful to contemplate how difficult a task he assigns them. On the one hand they are to be humble because only in being so will they be exalted.

 

Full text of "A Model of Christian Charity"

 

Masthead from the <I>Salem Gazette</I> on December 7, 1830 Vol. XLIV--New Series Vol. III No. 98 featuring  biographical sketch, \"Mrs. Hutchinson,\"  by Hawthorne.
Masthead from the Salem Gazette on December 7, 1830 Vol. XLIV--New Series Vol. III No. 98 featuring biographical sketch, "Mrs. Hutchinson," by Hawthorne.
Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) was tried for her antinomian preaching that God's grace was the road to salvation; this was in conflict with the Puritan view that good works was the only path leading to salvation. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
\"A Modell of Christian Charity\" in The Winthrop Papers
"A Modell of Christian Charity" in The Winthrop Papers
It is possible that Hawthorne read John Winthrop's famous address in a version that appeared very much like this one. 

 

Images Related to Hawthorne and a Framework of Faith

Churches 
Cemeteries and Tombstones
Book Illustrations
Witch Trials
Portraits
Other Images

Churches

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem
St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem
Constructed in 1833, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem rests on the same site the original Episcopal Church occupied for which Philip English donated land in 1734. It would have been one of the many places of worship familiar to Hawthorne during his years in Salem. 
St. Peter's Church, Salem
St. Peter's Church, Salem
Constructed in 1833, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem rests on the same site the original Episcopal Church occupied for which Philip English donated land in 1734. It would have been one of the many places of worship familiar to Hawthorne during his years in Salem.  (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Site of the Salem Village Meeting House, 1692
Site of the Salem Village Meeting House, 1692
Site of the First Church, Danvers (Salem Village) Corner of Forrest and Hobart Streets (Frank Cousins Photo, c. 1891) (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
First Church (Daniel Low Building), 121 Washington St., 231 Essex St. Mall
First Church (Daniel Low Building), 121 Washington St., 231 Essex St. Mall
First Church, established in 1629, was the first Protestant church in America. Rebecca Nurse and Giles Cory, two victims of the witchcraft hysteria in 1692, were members, and most of the Hathorne family also belonged to this church. Nathaniel's grandfather and grandmother were members; Hawthorne's mother, Elizabeth Clarke Manning Hathorne, joined First Church in 1806, and her children were baptized there. In the early 1800s, the church became Unitarian in its theology. In 1824, Charles W. Upham became associate pastor with John Prince, and after Prince's death in 1836, became pastor. He remained in this position until 1844 when he left the post because of illness. Margaret Moore points out in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne that "Hawthorne wrote in Our Old Home that only fond memories of John Prince of First Church helped him retain 'a devout, though not intact nor unwavering respect for the entire fraternity of ministers'(CE 5:28)." (110). First Church was originally located in Town House Square, but in 1734, after a dispute between the minister, John Fisk, and some members of his congregation, Fisk and his supporters built a new First Church at 256 Essex St., a short distance from their original location. In 1772, the church broke into five different churches and rejoined in later years. This building was constructed in 1826; the second floor was used by First Church and the first floor was rented to shopkeepers. In 1874, the church was enlarged and extensively remodeled in the High Victorian Gothic style. In 1922, the First Church merged with North Church (Unitarian) and moved to the North Church building at 256 Essex St. Daniel Low and Company then acquired the property at 121 Washington St. (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Salem Witch Museum, 19 1/2 Washington Square North at Brown Street (formerly East Church; built in 1844-46)
Salem Witch Museum, 19 1/2 Washington Square North at Brown Street (formerly East Church; built in 1844-46)
This building has been the home of the Salem Witch Museum since 1972. (photography by Lou Procopio)
Salem Witch Museum (built for East Church in 1844-46; home of the Witch Museum since 1972), 19 ½ Washington Square North at Brown St. (built in 1844-46)
Salem Witch Museum (built for East Church in 1844-46; home of the Witch Museum since 1972), 19 ½ Washington Square North at Brown St. (built in 1844-46) 
The East Church, organized in 1718, was the oldest branch of the First Church of Salem. Hawthorne’s Manning grandparents attended East Church, a liberal Unitarian congregation led by Dr. William Bentley from 1783-1819. Hawthorne’s mother, Elizabeth Clarke Manning, also attended East Church as a young girl when Dr. Bentley was pastor. She joined First Church in 1806, however, and had her children baptized there. According to Gilbert L. Streeter in “Salem Before the Revolution,” EIHC, 32 (1896), the East Church meeting-house was located near the corner of Essex and Hardy streets (87). The building was demolished in 1845, however, and a new church was built at 19 ½ Washington Square North at Brown St between 1844 and 1846. This Gothic Revival building today houses the Salem Witch Museum. (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Old South Church in Boston
Old South Church in Boston
Hawthorne mentions Old South Church in "Howe's Masquerade" in Colonial Stories. The Province House, mentioned in all the stories in this collection, is located across the street from Old South Church; the church stands on what was once Governor Winthrop's estate, and it is here where he died. Hawthorne refers to Winthrop's death in The Scarlet Letter
Crombie Street Church, 7 Crombie St., Salem
Crombie Street Church, 7 Crombie St., Salem
This Federal-Greek Revival building was originally constructed to house a theatre in 1827-28. The theatre was unsuccessful, however, and ceased its existence in 1830. In 1832 the building was purchased by a group of dissenting parishioners from the Howard Street Church who called themselves the New Congregational Church and later the Crombie Street Church. The church was rebuilt after a fire damaged the interior in 1934, but the exterior remains almost unchanged. (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Tabernacle Church, Washington and Federal Sts., Salem
Tabernacle Church, Washington and Federal Sts., Salem
Established in 1735 as a branch of the First Church, and calling itself "The First Church of Salem," Tabernacle Church built a meeting house in 1736 near 256 Essex St. Until 1762, Salem thus had two churches calling themselves, First Church. At that time, the government required the church that separated to change its name, so it became Third Church of Christ in Salem. When that house of worship was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1774, a new building was erected in 1777 that resembled London's Tabernacle, and soon was referred to as The Tabernacle. Eventually the church took this as its legal name. One of the most orthodox congregations in Hawthorne's time, it was led by Dr. Samuel Worcester (1770-1821), who was installed as minister in 1803 and who was one of the leading voices of the conservative view in New England. His sermons were highly regarded; Leverett Saltonstall, a leading Unitarian lawyer in Salem, admired them because of their mixture of emotion and reason, even though he was aware that Worcester was a strict calvinist. In 1924 the Tabernacle Church merged with South Church, and the current Colonial Revival building was constructed, replacing a large wooden Italian Revival building which was the home of the Tabernacle Church from 1854 until it was demolished in 1922. From 1776 to 1854, the building that stood on this ground was occupied by the Tabernacle Church and in 1805 featured a three-stage tower added by Samuel McIntire. This is the building that Hawthorne would have known. (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
First Baptist Church, 56 Federal St.
First Baptist Church, 56 Federal St.
This church was erected in 1805-6. In 1850 it was expanded, and its exterior was rebuilt in an Italianate style in 1850. It originally featured a three-stage Federal tower and octagonal dome, but this was removed in 1926 because of the cost of renovations undertaken at that time (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
First (North) Church (Unitarian), (North Church until 1923; First Church thereafter), 316 Essex St.
First (North) Church (Unitarian), (North Church until 1923; First Church thereafter), 316 Essex St.
This building is the second meeting house of the North Church, which separated from the First Church in 1772; the original building was located at the corner of "Curwen's Lane" (North St.) and "The New Lane" (later Lynde St.). When the two churches merged again in 1923, this building became the home of First Church. Constructed in 1835-36, it is considered, along with St. Peter's Church, to be among the finest stone masonry Gothic Revival churches in the United States. Francis Peabody, a parishioner who oversaw the construction, is said to have led the argument for a building in the Gothic Revival style. North Church was one of the three more liberal churches in Salem in Hawthorne's time. It was the church attended by the Peabody family and also by Jones Very (1813-1880), a mystic, Unitarian minister, and poet. Some in Salem thought Very insane, but the Transcendentalists were intrigued by him as was Hawthorne who was friends with him in the late 1830s, according to Margaret Moore in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne(215). N.B. Margaret Moore presents the interesting convergence of what is now First Church with the Hathornes and Thomas Maule in her book The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne. She says that across the street from First Church were the houses of Philip English and Thomas Maule. The English house was inherited by John Touzel; after his death, Touzel's widow shared ownership with William and Mary Touzel Hathorne, and then Sophia Peabody's family later lived in William and Mary's half of the house. Also, Moore says that Mary Hathorne, daughter of William, "owned a house on the other side of Essex Street, just in front of the land on which First Church now stands. It stood on part of Thomas Maule's orchard. She willed this house to her sister, Ann Hathorne Savage, but the will was lost, found much later, and then stolen. So, one Hathorne house on the southern side of Essex was next door to the Maule house; the other on the northern side stood on what had been his garden. Maule's garden is important in The House of the Seven Gables. The juxtaposition of the Hathorne house with the Maule land, the garden, the lost will, the witchcraft accusations: all make another possible Hawthorne connection to witchcraft" (45-46).  (courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.)
Methodist Church and Parsonage, Sewall St., Salem
Methodist Church and Parsonage, Sewall St., Salem
Postcard from 1916 of the Methodist Church and Parsonage in Salem, MA (special thanks to Margaret B. Moore)

Cemeteries and Tombstones

Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem
Charter Street Burying Point, established 1637; oldest cemetery in Salem
Charter Street Burying Point, Oldest cemetery in Salem, established in 1637. (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
Charter Street Graveyard and  Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Charter Street Graveyard and Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Judge Hathorne and seven other Hathornes are buried here, but Hawthorne is buried in Concord. The Peabody House is where Sophia lived with her parents when Hawthorne courted her. It is also the setting of "Grimshawe" and the unfinished novel,The Dolliver Romance. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
John Hathorne, 1717, Charter St. Burying Ground
John Hathorne, 1717, Charter St. Burying Ground
Slate gravestone of Magistrate John Hathorne (1641-1717), Charter Street Cemetery, Salem (The Burying Point, 1637). Hawthorne's great-great grandfather was at the center of the witchcraft hysteria of 1692--as an interrogator of the accused and as a member of the infamous Court of Oyer and Terminer.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Timothy Lindall, 1698,99, Salem (full)
Timothy Lindall, 1698,99, Salem (full)
Timothy Lindall (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Timothy Lindall, left border, Salem
Timothy Lindall, left border, Salem
Left border of the Timothy Lindall Stone, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Timothy Lindall, right border, Salem
Timothy Lindall, right border, Salem
 (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rev.John Hale Gravestone, 1700, Beverly, Massachusetts.
Rev.John Hale Gravestone, 1700, Beverly, Massachusetts.
In 1664 John Hale became minister of the church at "Bass River," which became the town of Beverly in 1667. He held this position for over thirty years. He supported the Salem witch hunt of 1692 until his second wife, Sarah (Noyes), was accused of witchcraft, at which time he changed his opinion. He is buried next to his wives in the Hale Family plot, not far from his house in Beverly, Massachusetts.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Illustrations
\"Snow Image,\" frontispiece illustration by Frederick Church from vol 3, <I>The House of the Seven Gables and The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales</I>
"Snow Image," frontispiece illustration by Frederick Church from vol 3, The House of the Seven Gables and The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales
In contrast to the somber gravestone images with which Hawthorne would have been familiar, this image by Frederick Church, which served as the frontispiece illustration from volume 3 of the 1883 Riverside Press edition of The House of the Seven Gables and The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales captures and innocent spirit that occasionally appears in such pieces as "The Snow Image" and "Little Annie's Ramble." Romanticized and whimsical, the drawing points us to one possible version of Hawthorne's idea of goodness. (courtesy of Halldor F. Utne)
This illustration which appears opposite the title page of \"The Snow-Image and Other Twice-Told Tales\" and opposite p. 379 in vol. 3 of <I>Seven Gables and The Snow-Image, and other Twice-Told Tales</I> carries a sense of youthful feminine innocence suggestive of the gentle kindness Hawthorne celebrated in characters such as Mary Goffe of \"The Man of Adamant\" and Annie in \"Litte Annie's Ramble.\"
This illustration which appears opposite the title page of "The Snow-Image and Other Twice-Told Tales" and opposite p. 379 in vol. 3 of Seven Gables and The Snow-Image, and other Twice-Told Tales carries a sense of youthful feminine innocence suggestive of the gentle kindness Hawthorne celebrated in characters such as Mary Goffe of "The Man of Adamant" and Annie in "Litte Annie's Ramble."
from the 15 vol. 1883 Riverside Press edition of Hawthorne's works. (courtesy of Halldor F. Utne)
The Virgins of the Church from chapter entitled \"The Interior of a Heart\" in <I>The Scarlet Letter</I>
The Virgins of the Church from chapter entitled "The Interior of a Heart" in The Scarlet Letter
Illustration from the 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter published by Charles R. Osgood & Co. in Boston. Illustration drawn by Mary Hallock Foote and engraved by A.V.S. Anthony. (172) 
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.)

Witch Trials

Gallows Hill, Salem, circa 1898.
Photograph from N. W. Elwell, Boston
Gallows Hill, Salem, circa 1898. Photograph from N. W. Elwell, Boston
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
\"Examination of a Witch,\" 1853 by T.H. Matteson
"Examination of a Witch," 1853 by T.H. Matteson
"Examination of a Witch" oil on canvas by T.H. Matteson, 1853.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Portraits

Cotton Mather
Cotton Mather
Portrait of Cotton Mather from Perley's History of Salem, Massachusetts. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
John Winthrop (1588-1649), Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630-1649, engraving
John Winthrop (1588-1649), Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630-1649, engraving
On June 12, 1630, John Winthrop, on board the flagship Arbella, landed at Naumkeag (Salem) and replaced John Endecott as governor. Soon after, Winthrop and his fleet of ships and Puritan colonists went on to "Mystic River" (Charlestown) and then to the Shawmut Peninsula (Boston). With the coming of Winthrop and the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony, the "Puritan Experiment" in New England began. Rapid settlement occurred between 1630 and 1642, when approximately 21,000 English immigrants arrived in New England. The Puritan emigrants and their descendants set out to create a society based on Scripture, and as John Winthrop declared, one that should be a "Model of Christian Charity," "a city upon a hill." From vol. 1 , S. Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, 1924, p. 188  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Cotton Mather (1663-1723)
Portrait of Cotton Mather (1663-1723)
Cotton Mather was one of Puritan New England's most influential ministers and leaders. He was famous for his writings, histories such as Magnalia Christi Americana and those that helped stir up support for the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692. He also promoted learning and early scientific knowledge in New England. He worked for acceptance of the smallpox vaccine and wrote a treatise on medicine called The Angel of Bethesda.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Charles W. Upham (1802 - 1876)
Portrait of Charles W. Upham (1802 - 1876)
Charles W. Upham was an author, minister of the First Church, and after resigning that post, a political leader in Salem. He was instrumental in having Hawthorne removed from his position in the Custom House in 1849. Hawthorne satirizes Upham in a number of his works, making him out to be a scoundrel in both The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Rev. William Bentley (1759-1819) of Salem by Frothingham
Portrait of Rev. William Bentley (1759-1819) of Salem by Frothingham
Educated at Harvard, William Bentley was the minister at the East Church (Second Congregational} in Salem from 1783 until his death in 1819. His personal diary offers a thorough treatment of life in Salem during its golden era of East India Trade.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Other

Derby Wharf and Salem Harbor shoreline, painting by Fred Freeman, c. 1803
Derby Wharf and Salem Harbor shoreline, painting by Fred Freeman, c. 1803 
Freeman’s painting offers a powerful image of human beings harmoniously engaged in a common pursuit. According to Claudia Durst JohnsonHawthorne saw these moments and both valuable and fleeting. To work with others toward a common goal is to subordinate the self to the welfare of the larger whole, an attitude in direct opposition to the damaging pride that aflicts so many of Hawthorne's villains. The attitude has a humility in it that brings to mind Hawthorne's virtuous figures such as Earnest of "The Great Stone Face" or The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne in her moments that approach selfless charity.  (courtesy of Salem Maritime National Historic Site)
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St. in Salem, in 2000
In
Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St. in Salem, in 2000 In 
The Salem Athenaeum began as part of the Social Library on Market Street, now known as Central Street, in Salem. It opened on July 11, 1810, but moved three times to various sites in Salem over the next forty years. In 1845, however, a bequest from Caroline Plummer enabled the Athenaeum to erect a building, the original Plummer Hall, at 134 Essex Street. The Athenaeum shared this building with the Essex Institute until 1905, when Plummer Hall was sold to the Essex Institute (now the Peabody Essex Museum), and with the proceeds constructed the building it currently occupies at 337 Essex St.

By 1837 the Salem Athenaeum housed 8,000 volumes. According to Hawthorne scholar Margaret Moore in her book The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, it was the "pooled holdings of the Philosophical and Social Libraries, which merged in 1810," six years after Hawthorne's birth (158). The Athenaeum supplied Hawthorne with a tremendous amount of reading material during his Salem years.

William Manning (1779-1864), Hawthorne's maternal uncle, owned a share in the Salem Athenaeum from 1820-1827. Mary Manning (1777-1841) also was a member from 1826; she later gave this share to Hawthorne. Today this same share is owned by David Gavenda of the National Park Service. (photography by Terri Whitney)

Egg Rock, Nahant, near Swampscott
from <I>Hawthorne's Country</I> by Helen Archibald Clarke, The Baker and Taylor Co., 1910, opposite p. 19
Egg Rock, Nahant, near Swampscott from Hawthorne's Country by Helen Archibald Clarke, The Baker and Taylor Co., 1910, opposite p. 19
Elizabeth Hawthorne told Julian that around 1833, after a visit of several weeks to nearby Swampscott, Hawthorne "came home captivated in his fanciful way with a mermaid, as he called her. He would not tell us her name, but said she was of the aristocracy of the village, the keeper of a little shop. She gave him a sugar heart, a pink one, which he kept a great whle, and then (how boyish and how like him!) he ate it. You will find her, I suspect, in 'The Village Uncle.' She is Susan. He said she had a great deal of what the French call espieglerie. At that time he had fancies like this whenever he went from home" (qtd. in Clark, 38). (courtesy of Terri Whitney)

Critical Commentary Relating 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)
 

It may well be that Hawthorne's reluctance to subscribe to any single religious doctrine emanated from the fact the he grew up in the shadow of Gallows Hill, the location where in 1692 those accused of witchcraft were hung. Hawthorne's ancestor, John Hathorne, appears to have been an enthusiastic persecutor of the Salem "witches" and Hawthorne may well have acquired a keen sense of how aggressive self-righteousness can lead to calamity.

 
  • Excerpt from Margaret Moore's The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne (courtesy of the University of Missouri Press)
    Moore presents Hawthorne in this passage as reluctant to ascribe to any particular faith, but certainly not out of ignorance. His wife, Sophia, was, apparently active in religious activities and thought, as were those around him. Hawthorne would have known what the various religious thinkers in Salem were saying. Apparently, he chose to subscribe to no single idea.

     

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

     

  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press
    Margaret Moore makes it clear that while Hawthorne was steeped in religious thinking, he never ascribed to any single sect nor did he spurn religion altogether. He remained a man of faith, but of some indeterminate faith.

     

  • Excerpt from Anthony Trollope's article "The Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne," The North American Review. Volume 129, Issue 274, September 1879 (courtesy of Library of Congress and Cornell University Library; the American Memory Project)
    British novelist Anthony Trollope finds a quiet drollery even in the darkest passages of Hawthorne's work and suggests that even our deepest sufferings are not so important as to elevate us above others. If Trollope is correct, this might be due to Hawthorne's modest unwillingness to exalt anything, even sin and its suffering, to a place where it might invite pride. 
    Full text of the article is available online at: American Memory Project

     

  • Excerpt from lecture, "Hawthorne and Melville" by David B. Kesterson, delivered in Salem, Massachusetts on September 23, 2000
    Here David Kesterson comments upon the fact that it was Hawthorne's fascination with and exploration of the idea of evil that so captivated the younger Herman Melville. In Melville's comments, Kesterson captures Melville's idea that no "deeply thinking mind" is ever completely free from a consideration of evil.

     

  • Excerpt from lecture, "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" by Rita K. Gollin, delivered at Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000.
    In this passage Rita Gollin emphasizes the way in which Hawthorne had internalized the shameful events of Salem's history in which his ancestors played critical roles. For her, Young Goodman Brown's journey into the dark forest serves as a metaphor for Hawthorne's own dark introspections.

     

  • Excerpts from pages 5-9 of Chapter One, "The Doctrinal Foundation of Colonial Life" from Claudia Durst Johnson's 2002 book entitled Daily Life in Colonial New England (courtesy of Greenwood Press
    Professor Johnson's Daily Life in Colonial New England offers useful insight into the beliefs of the Puritans. This foundation proves essential in understanding Nathaniel Hawthorne's torn feelings about both his family heritage and his worldly career in letters. Grasping the Puritan mindset sheds light upon the hypocrisy of such fictional characters as Hawthorne's tortured pastor in the The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale of Boston, and his corrupt icon in The House of the Seven Gables, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon of Salem. Not only does Johnson clarify the Doctrine of Original Sin as the Calvinistic explanation of human evil, but, just as with her lecture "Work and Money in Hawthorne's Fiction," she elaborates upon Puritan thinking in terms of covenants or contracts, thus helping to account for both the sect's famous character strength of industry and its notorious tragic flaw of intolerance.

     

  • Excerpts from Claudia Durst Johnson lecture, "The Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic in The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables" Dr. Johnson's lecture was delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on October 20. 2000. (Used with permission of author) 
    Despite the observation Claudia Johnson makes that “Qualifications, contradictions and disjunctions intimate that Hawthorne has not been completely successful in idealizing the commercial, work ethic of his day, that he often seemed to favor,” she also presents us with an idea of how the world might look to Hawthorne if his idea of virtue were ever to truly take hold. There is in Hawthorne a vision of harmony growing from humility that attracts him even as he may understand that it is impossible in real life.

Multimedia 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)
 
  • Excerpts from Claudia Durst Johnson lecture, "Work and Money in Hawthorne's Fiction" Dr. Johnson's lecture was delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on October 20. 2000. (Used with permission of author) 
      Despite the observation Claudia Johnson makes that "Qualifications, contradictions and  disjunctions intimate that Hawthorne has not been completely successful in idealizing the commercial, work ethic of his day, that he often seemed to favor," she also presents us with an idea of how the world might look to Hawthorne if his idea of virtue were ever to truly take hold. There is in Hawthorne a vision of harmony growing from humility that attracts him even as he may understand that it is impossible in real life.
  • Excerpt from lecture, "Hawthorne and Melville" by David B. Kesterson, delivered in Salem, Massachusetts on September 23, 2000
      Here David  Kesterson comments upon the fact that it was Hawthorne's fascination with and exploration of the idea of evil that so captivated the younger Herman Melville. In Melville's comments, Kesterson captures Melville's idea that no "deeply thinking mind" is ever completely free from a consideration of evil.

Websites Related to Hawthorne's 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 Anthony Trollope's article "The Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne," The North American Review. Volume 129, Issue 274, September 1879 (courtesy of Library of Congress and Cornell University Library; the American Memory Project)
    British novelist Anthony Trollope finds a quiet drollery even in the darkest passages of Hawthorne's work and suggests that even our deepest sufferings are not so important as to elevate us above others. If Trollope is correct, this might be due to Hawthorne's modest unwillingness to exalt anything, even sin and its suffering, to a place where it might invite pride. 
    Full text of the article is available online at: American Memory Project 
     
  • The Genesis story of Adam and Eve is one that has captured the imaginations of any number of artists working in any number of media. The images here represent only a few of the renditions of the climactic moment in that story and will give the viewer some idea of the many interpretations painters have brought to it. 
     
  • Puritanism and Predestination Information on Puritans from the National

Explore Activities Related to Hawthorne and 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)
 

1. Students interested in Hawthorne's religious views might consider the fragments from Related Literaturealong with Margaret Moore's excerpts under Critical Commentary. Based upon that information, draw some conclusions about why Hawthorne avoided any doctrinaire religious allegiance. Moore speaks of Hawthorne's "instinct of faith." Margaret Moore powerfully suggests that while Hawthorne avoided any specific religious affiliation, his prose and his thinking were permeated with religious ideas.] After your reading, what do you take her to mean by that phrase? To rephrase, what is Hawthorne's "instinct of faith"? What role might Hawthorne's family history and the environment of Salem have had in determining his religious views?

Lectures and Articles Related to A Framework of Faith

Adam & Eve Fireback at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site
Adam & Eve Fireback at the House of the Seven Gables Historic Site (courtesy of The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site)
 

"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.

Issues of faith and religion, that is, issues of the spirit, so permeated Hawthorne's thinking as to shape nearly everything he wrote. He did not merely grow up in Salem, but, as Rita

Gollin suggests in "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" absorbed Salem's past, especially the dark history of his ancestors' participation in the persecution of Quakers and later of those accused a witchcraft.

"Hawthorne and Melville," lecture by Dr. David Kesterson, University of North Texas delivered at Phillips Library, the Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000.

Hawthorne's friendship with Herman Melville, as David

Kesterson points out in his lecture "Hawthorne and Melville," was characterized by the fascination both writers had with the unquiet depths of the human heart and mind. It is almost impossible to look deeply into any aspect of Hawthorne's life or writing and not encounter his concern with this framework of faith.

Full text of Anthony Trollope's article "The Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne," The North American Review. Volume 129, Issue 274, September 1879 (courtesy of Library of Congress and Cornell University Library; the American Memory Project)

British novelist Anthony Trollope finds a quiet drollery even in the darkest passages of Hawthorne's work and suggests that even our deepest sufferings are not so important as to elevate us above others. If Trollope is correct, this might be due to Hawthorne's modest unwillingness to exalt anything, even sin and its suffering, to a place where it might invite pride.

"The Secular Calling and the Protestant Ethic in the Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables" lecture by Claudia Durst Johnson at the (Turner) House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on October 20,2000

By identifying Hawthorne's rejection of an equation of prosperity and virtue, especially in the money-centered novel 

The House of the Seven Gables, Professor Johnson demonstrates the author's reaction against some elements of his Puritan heritage as well as their evolved variations in his own bourgeois milieu. Specifically, she notes the tension between the Puritan doctrine of secular calling and Hawthorne's profession as a writer of fiction, and she makes clear that his depictions of the so-called Protestant Ethic tend to undermine aspects of that concept's validity. Hawthorne's "Framework of Faith," therefore, clearly includes not only the echoes of seventeenth century Puritan beliefs but also their consequences in the materialism of his own times