Collected Links to Hawthorne Paper Help Pages

Examples of Expert Interpretive Methods Applied to the Stories: An Interpretive "Crux" in "My Kinsman, Major Molineux""Rappaccini's Daughter" and Allusions; An Interpretive "Crux" in "R'sD".  Note that these pages suggest many ways good papers about the stories could be developed by using some advanced analysis techniques.  Your own thinking may well be as good or better.  Read the email exchange below that discusses "What should my Hawthorne paper be about?" for help figuring out whether your own, home-grown ideas, will make a good paper.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's Progress as an Author: Knowing how old an author was, or knowing what might have happened in an author's personal life or in the world, in the period before a story was written, sometimes can help us test hypotheses about why the story contains certain non-obvious patterns of evidence.  Remember not to fall into the "biographical fallacy," assuming that because a similar event happened in the author's life, the story event must be a retelling of it.  Authors have imaginations, too.  Nevertheless, once you have a well-constructed explanation of your pattern of evidence based on the story, itself, reference to the author's historical circumstances can add credibility to your interpretation.

An online dictionary for translating French or Italian words into English: "Rappaccini's Daughter" is only one example of a Hawthorne story which contains interesting verbal play using words from languages other than English.  Hawthorne's pseudonymous preface to that story contains several French paraphrases of Hawthorne story titles, and a play on his own name.  Other names might be built out of foreign words, perhaps distorted a bit to make them harder to recognize, and less "allegorical" in effect.  Calling a villainous character "Mr. Badman" works for an allegory like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress because seventeenth-century English readers still liked to read allegories, but Hawthorne's preface acknowledges that his tendency toward allegory might have cost him some readers.  Naming the same character "Mr. Mauvais" might work a bit better for English speakers.  Puns, or sound-alike names, can work, too.  Samuel Richardson's Clarissa named its dastardly seducer "Mr. Lovelace," an ambiguous enough name until you realize that English readers pronounce that name "love-less."

How the Product Purchase Recommendation Resembles and Differs From a Literary Analysis Paper: These two assignments seem radically different, but the papers they produce still will contain important similarities because they are intended to be "academic prose," that strange sub-set of written English we are studying.  The differences will be important to keep in mind, too, since the literary analyst is recommending a very rare sort of "product" to a highly specialized "best reader."  For more guidance, see the two links below.

A "Question and Answer" Guide to Typical Literary Analysis Papers' Rhetorical Flow: Another version of this same information is presented in a different form in the link below.  Use whichever one works for you.  They're both telling you generally the same thing.  Play the writing game according to the rules your readers expect you to follow.  Innovate only if you are very sure you can control the results, or you'll never "get my mother to Pearlstone."

Understanding and Addressing Your "Best Reader" in a Literature Paper:  Scholarly readers have very predictable needs, fortunately for you!  Therefore, you can concentrate on all the difficult evidence gathering and analysis, without having to reinvent the artistic form of the scholarly paper's introduction, body, and conclusion.

Making the Transition from Casual Writing About Literature to Scholarly Writing about Literature: "What should my Hawthorne paper be about?"  That's an excellent question, though it's hard to answer simply without telling you exactly what to write.  These two email exchanges attempt to explain why high-school papers about literature rarely ask the same kinds of questions about their subjects as college-level papers.  You may have been the lucky one whose high-school teacher asked students to achieve a professional standard of analysis and care for "telling the truth," but the odds are against it.  No matter what major you choose, you probably will have to make same transition in standards of analytical quality, research quality, and writing quality.  (Note the emphasis on quality rather than quantity!)

Secondary Source Research Guides:  By the time the final draft is done, your Hawthorne paper should demonstrate that you can use at least some secondary sources with authority.  Note I set no minimum number of sources.  I do not want you to pad your paper with other people's ideas.  Use secondary sources as a scholar would use them and your paper will be better for it.  Use them as high schools typically teach students to use them (e.g., more sources are better for any paper) and your paper will be hurt by it.

Citing Hawthorne Stories Read Online?  You should be able to figure out how to do this, but if you had to use this web page to copy the format, at least puzzle out why this includes the information it includes, in the order in which it appears, with the double quotes and underscoring (or italics) where they are.