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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Gothic Undercurrents

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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Nathaniel Hawthorne - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Nathaniel Hawthorne Activities
  • To help your students contextualize "Young Goodman Brown," supply excerpts from Puritan writings--for example, one of Cotton Mather's trial descriptions in Wonders of the Invisible World--and ask them to determine exactly what in Puritanism Hawthorne seems to be criticizing (e.g., rigidity, right-and-wrong thinking, moral arbitrariness).

  • For "Rappaccini's Daughter," have the students discuss current ethical issues of science and "progress." Is Rappaccini a twisted and perverted emblem of the scientific method or does he stand for a general ethical failure of science?
  • Highlight the idea of "the beginning" in The Scarlet Letter both in terms of "The Custom-House" (i.e., how the frame narrative affects our understanding of Hester Prynne's story) and in terms of the novel as a foundation for American literary identity (i.e., how we might see it as establishing an American literary tradition).

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