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Analysis of My Kinsman Major Molineaux Essay


Nathaniel Hawthorne has carefully structured My Kinsman, Major Molineux to the point where the reader can find several themes and symbols within the story. A major theme in the story that ties in with the setting (scenes) in the story is the theme of dark innocence to illuminated knowledge. The story focuses on Robins passage from child to adult and this is accomplished by the conventional pattern that Robins journey follows. He travels away from home to a distant land where he meets strange people and has exciting adventures while inquiring about his uncle, Major Molineux.

Each scene in the story symbolizes a stage in Robins growth, though Robin is not aware of it as he refers to himself as a shrewd Youth from the beginning of the story. Throughout each scene Hawthorne gives the reader descriptive passages of imagery where he makes especial references to light. From the very first scene when Robin steps off the boat we are encountered with the pattern of Hawthornes reference to light in the story: It was near nine oclock on a moonlight evening. The references to light continue in the barbershop scene when the light from the open door fall on Robin and the man he is asking for directions to get to his kinsman, and continues in the church scene: The moonbeams came trembling in, and fell down upon the open page of the great bible, and continues to the scene of the tavern that is described as brightly lit, right to the final scene when at the procession he encounters Major Molineux: There the torches blazed the brightest, there the moon shone out like day, and there in tar-and- feathery dignity, sat his kinsman, major Molineux! It is also interesting to note that the individuals that Robin encounters along his journey are all under lighted places.

Taking into consideration the theme of dark innocence to illuminated knowledge I believe that each encounter in each scene leaves Robin a little wiser than he was before. It also enlightens him to why he is being treated with hostility when he asks for directions to his uncles home. But ultimately what Robin learns by the end of the story is how to survive on his own, or in the words of the kind gentleman, to rise in the world without the help of his kinsman, major Molineux.

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