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Individuality as a Force for Destruction in Nathaniel Hawthorne's ''The Ambitious Guest''

Nail Kalac

Abstract


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Ambitious Guest” has been regarded by various readers as a tale of natural sublimity and a defeat of humankind under crushing forces of Nature. However, Hawthorne’s captivating writing leaves space for multiple interpretations, and bearing in mind that Hawthorne belongs to Dark Romanticism this short story can be regarded as a defeat of individual heart against collective mind. In this story, Hawthorne, a great symbolist of his time, carefully developed the plot and the characters in order to portray how individual striving for progress and betterment can destroy a harmonious family that is in peace with natural order. Hawthorne uses a complete stranger and turns him into a force for destruction, as the character deeply disturbs the philosophy of each family member and changes the close-knit structure of the family into a scattered group of unsatisfied individuals who yearn for change, which results in a natural catastrophe. “The Ambitious Guest” represents Hawthorne’s warning against individualism and yearning for progress, and it praises the institution of family as a building block upon which humankind is built.


Keywords


Dark Romanticism, Individualism, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Natural destruction



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