Week 4 Discussion Guide: Thursday--The Hawthorne Project.
Now that you have read two of Hawthorne's short stories written twelve years apart, what can you see that has changed in his construction of a story, and what can you see that has stayed the same? Patterns of change in an author's work tell us about how he has matured/developed in his conception of what he has to say, how he can say it, and what he can expect his readers to be aware of and able to interpret. When comparing "My Kinsman, Major Moleneaux" with "Rappaccini's Daughter," how do their settings suggest their author's reading and life experience have changed him? Click here to see Hawthorne's publishing history and to locate where in his lifespan these stories were written and published.
You might want to consult a scholarly Hawthorne biography to discover where he had been and what had recently happened to him in the year he wrote them. Those events might have influenced the stories. Remember always that authors of fiction, like poets, use their imaginations to transform their life experiences and to mingle it with what they have read or heard about, so you should not attempt to simply project events or persons in the fictional stories backwards upon the authors' lives, assuming they only could write about things that actually happened to them. Instead, you might discover events or persons in Hawthorne's life that represent issues or themes that turn up in his stories.