Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown – Poverty in the Tale and Author’s Life

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“Young Goodman Brown” – Poverty in the Tale and Author’s Life

Roy Harvey Pearce in “Twice-Told Tales: A Blend of Stories” makes reference to the widely-known poverty of the aspiring writer,Nathaniel Hawthorne: “True enough, Hawthorne planned more than once to write groups of tales and sketches somehow linked into a whole; but he could not get a publisher for them. When he did get a publisher in 1837, it had to be through the help of the hack-editor, Samuel Goodrich. . . .” (107) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” includes traits of the modest lifestyle which the author was forced to endure in his personal life. Besides this, there was also an artisitc-resources impoverishment because of the tiny town in which
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At the end of this time, a brief, unfruitful experience at Brook Farm was followed by marriage to Sophia in 1842: “After a three-year engagement, Hawthorne lost patience waiting to marry Sophia until he had more money” (20).

Between 1838 and 1845, Hawthorne published 22 stories in the Democratic Review, which paid him between three and five dollars per page. Henry James in his biography Hawthorne from 1879 testifies in eloquent fashion to the state of Hawthorne’s finances:

It strikes the observer of to-day that Hawthorne showed great courage in entering a field in which the honours and emoluments were so scanty

as the profits of authorship must have been at that time. . . Hawthorne

never, I believe, made large sums of money by his writings, and the early profits of these charming sketches could not have been considerable; for many of them, indeed, as they appeared in journals and magazines, he had never been paid at all. . . .(chap. 2)

Grandfather’s Chair (1841), a children’s book of New England history through the Revolutionary War, sold a million copies, but Hawthorne received only a hundred dollars - for the mansucript he wrote. Again he needed to supplement his writing income. In 1846, President Polk signed Hawthorne’s appointment to the customhouse at Salem with a salary of $1200 a year (Swisher 21).

Two years later

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