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Nathaniel Hawthorne vs. Shirley Jackson Analysis Essay

As a common reader I’ve come across many authors that have intrigued me due their style of writing, choice of words, paramount of symbolism, sense of irony, use of color, etc… but no two authors have caught my attention more than Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shirley Jackson. These two authors are completely different in every way including their writing styles! Both of these authors have written short stories that have been extremely famous with the public. For example, Nathaniel Hawthorne is mostly known for his famous short story called “The Scarlett Letter.” Shirley Jackson on the other hand, is best known for her thrilling short story called “The Lottery.” After reading a short story from these two authors’, you’ll quickly notice why they are so difference from each other! Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, MA. After losing his father, Hawthorne began taking a grand interest in his dad’s worldwide adventures! He even began reading the logbooks his father had submitted while he was at sea! (BRD Groupe Societe Generate)

As the years went by, Nathaniel left home and attended college until 1825 where he graduates and returns home to begin his writing experience. When Nathaniel returned home, he began his writing in semi-seclusion, leading him to write with the style he did and the topics he chose. As I mentioned earlier, “The Scarlett Letter” is one of Hawthorne’s most famous short stories and one of the best examples to capture his character as a person. This particular short story demonstrates Nathaniel’s writing style to the fullest!! He has a very formal, romantic, fictitious, way of writing and you can clearly pick it up as you read each page! His writing has even been criticized by many other readers. For instance, William Heath who has been known to analyze the sexual element of Hawthorne’s writings, finding a “profound ambivalence towards women” in many of his works. He speculates about the deeper sexual tension in Hawthorne’s life and how it surfaces in his books. He discusses his sexual anxieties, such as his fear of passion with his wife, and possible feelings of incest, which are backed up by family history.

He cautions against assuming that he feared passion because he was incapable of it. He finds Hawthorne to be “a straight-laced moralist.” His stories tend to become parables to decipher, rather than dramatic. (Literary Criticisms) Nathaniel Hawthorne had something that many authors’ use now a day as an inspiration to write, and that was his beliefs. His beliefs and lifestyle, led him to create themes for his short stories! Hawthorne was known for his extremely descriptive way of writing which made him such an amazing and admirable author. Back in the 19th century, there were no easy ways to produce photographs for books, so Hawthorne made sure to write lengthy, imaginative, visual descriptions so the person reading the story could still feel what he was saying. (BRD Groupe Societe Generate) Besides writing with such great descriptions, Hawthorne was known for conveying modern themes of psychology and human nature through his symbolism. (BRD Groupe Societe Generate)

One unique element about Hawthorne’s writing was he never had any characters confronting themselves and this was all due to his lifestyle! Unfortunately, Nathaniel Hawthorne died on May 19, 1964 at the age of 60. He left with us his classic, old, contemporary classic short novels! Shirley Jackson was born on December 14, 1915 in San Francisco, CA. She spent most of her life in California where she began writing poetry and short novels as a young teenager. When Shirley turned 17 she attended the University of Rochester and sadly withdrew a year later! Shirley Jackson spent a year at home practicing her writing by producing a minimum of a thousand words a day. (Shirley Jackson Biography) In 1937 she attended the University of Syracuse and published her first story called “Janice”. As the years passed, Jackson began having her stories published in The New Yorker and The New Public and was then offered a teaching position at Bennington College. (Shirley Jackson Biography)

By 1948 Shirley Jackson had published her most captivating, exhilarating, chilling short story ever; “The Lottery.” Her writing style was known as very gothic and dark. She used witchcraft and abnormal psychology to create themes and twisted plots! The great thing about Shirley Jackson was that she was known to write with not just one style of writing, but two! One of them was detached hilarity which is also known as detaching from extreme amusemen;t and the other type of style is known as tenebrous horror, which is also known as dark horror. (Times) Her choice of words were very eerie and gruesome and truly paints a picture in a readers head that gives goosebumps! Many writers have also criticized Jackson for her way of writing especially being that it’s dusky and deep. Fortunately it has been good critique! It’s been known that a lot of writers, both in and out of the horror genre, know how to create a sense of dread.

What makes Jackson’s sensibility so distinctive is that her brand of dread tends to be self-aware and even, at times, self-amused. (Times) Her distinctive way of writing appeared in many other places such as, McCalls, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Bazaar and The Ladies’ Home Journal. (Times) Sadly, Shirley Jackson died on August 8, 1965 at the age of 49. Both of these writers are very different because one is romantic and basically coming from ones beliefs and the other is very gloomy and twisted. Shirley Jackson creates a very scary illusion as you read her stories. She makes you feel like you can jump into the book and construct an adventure of your own! Nathaniel Hawthorne on the other hand, takes you to this very soft, modern style. He writes with so much detail that you get sucked into the stories within seconds.

Your mind paints vivid pictures due to his imagery! The unique element about both these authors is that they also have a couple things in common. For instance, they both were truly dedicated to their writings and succeeded in allowing a readers imagination to spiral out of control. Another common quality they had was they both wrote in a classic way. Shirley Jackson was best known for writing classic horror and Nathaniel Hawthorne was known for his classic, clarity writing. Personally, my favorite out of the two has to be Nathaniel Hawthorne because his choice of details and words build pictures that make me feel like that story was specifically meant for me! Personally I don’t like scariness so Shirley Jackson would definitely not be one of my top favorite authors!

“Slidashare Present yourself.” Nathaniel Hawthorne. N.p.. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://www.slideshare.net/BethRitterGuth/nathaniel-hawthornes-writing-style>.

Raffert, Terrence. “Her Darkest Place.” Sunday Book Review. The New York Times, 26 2010. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/books/review/Rafferty-t.html>.

. “The Works of Shirley Jackson.” . N.p.. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG-jkh/index.htm>.

. “BRD GROUPE SOCIETE GENERALE.” Hawthorne Writing Style. N.p.. Web. 19 Nov 2012. <http://www.e-scoala.ro/referate/engleza_nathaniel_hawthorne.html>.


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