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Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804 - 1864 was born in Salem Massachusetts to a family that had been prominent in the area since colonial times An ancestor John Hathorne had been one of the Magistrates who presided over the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 Hawthorne believed his family to have been shamed by John Hathornes actions in the witchcraft trials To distance himself from this ancestor Hawthorne changed his last name adding a w Hawthornes sensitivity to Puritan excesses is clearly present in The Scarlet Letter which he wrote in 1850 In this book Hawthorne clearly rejects Puritanism and accepts modern views of morality and human nature Among Hawthornes other works are The House of the Seven Gables and Twice-Told Tales The Scarlet Letter is said to show strong influences of the romantic school of literature Romanticism emphasized the individual the subjective the irrational the imaginative the personal the spontaneous the emotional the visionary and the transcendental It was a rejection of the rationality of Classicism with its order calm harmony and balance As such Romanticism was also a reaction against the Enlightenment and 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism Writers of this school believed in the fundamental goodness of humanity focusing on the individual and examining the human personality They were fascinated by the genius the hero and the exceptional figure in general dwelling on his or her passions and inner struggles Romanticists appreciated the beauty of nature exalted emotion over reason and relied on the senses over the intellect They emphasized imagination as a gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual truth were interested in folk culture national and ethnic cultural origins and the medieval era and had a fascination with the exotic the mysterious the weird the occult the monstrous and the diseased The Romantic movement in literature took hold in Europe the United States and Latin America and lasting from about 1750 to about 1870 Romanticism not only affected
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