The poem Form of Heroes by Nathaniel Hawthorne was a wonderful example of how Hawthorne's life shaped his literary works. Forms of Heroes was truly a product of Nathaniel Hawthorne's view on the world and all of it's flaws. Nathaniel Hawthorne lived next to some of the most influential people in early America. Some of his neighbors were Ralph Waldo Emerson, arguably the greatest literary mind of the time, Thoreau, one of the most influential philosophers of all time, he was close friends with Franklin Pierce, the American president and not to mention Herman Melville, author of one of the greatest books of all time. Hawthorne certainly had a lot of people around him who someone may call heroes. In Hawthorne's poem Forms of Heroes he writes " On which the moss of age has slept,Since one fond heart has o'er you wept," (Hawthorne) Such a hostile message towards the forgotten men once deemed heroes reeks of personal emotions. With Hawthorne surrounded by so many american heroes he could have easily harbored ill will or jealousy towards them. In this poem it is easy to see he does not think much of heroes saying "One glance of that proud martial blaze Which led your feet in slaughter's ways." (Hawthorne) Such a harsh and criticizing tone of language clearly show he thought that heroes were over rated.

Several other defining moments in Hawthorne's life were translated in to his writing, in particular this poem. Forms of Heroes was full of demeaning quotes against the idea of people who are heroes. As said by Andrea Puckett heroes are defined by "Tonight, I learned that being a hero cannot be explained in words but it must be internalized" often times people are considered heroes for acts of bravery and killing their enemy. When Nathaniel Hawthorne was a middle aged man he loaned his boat to aid a search for a missing girl. They found her at the bottom of a lake. Hawthorne described the scene as "The Darkest Hour I ever lived" (Cheever) Clearly seeing a dead body had a profound affect on Hawthorne so it makes sense to see his disgust with men glorified for being butchers. How could a man who was affected so much by a dead body not be affected greatly by the killers?

Hawthorne was very much a romanticism author. Romanticism is a literary period where authors focused on several key characteristics including " Nationalism, Nature, Spirituality, and Emotionality" (Kartha) One of these characteristics that were really prevalent in this poem was the characteristic of Nature. In this poem nature was used briefly as it is such a short poem but it is also used effectively. In the poem Hawthorne writes "On which the moss of age has slept,Since one fond heart has o'er you wept," (Hawthorne) This passage means that the tombstones of heroes are covered with moss that has been there for a long time. The second part of the passage means that the reason the moss is growing is that no one has wept or tended to the tombstone in a long time. Hawthorne uses nature in a really effective and allows it to allude to other, larger things.

The second characteristic that was really prevalent in this poem was spirituality. Spirituality means quite a few things, one meaning could be people souls and spirits. The idea that spirituality has to do with and only with God or another Deity is completely not true. Spirituality can be any number of things and can be portrayed as anything. In the story Hawthorne writes " Tell me if now the laurel wreath,Which Glory twin'd around your head,Can wake amid the silent dead,One glance of that proud martial blaze,Which led your feet in slaughter's ways." (Hawthorne) Hawthorne is asking with this part of the poem whether or not the heroes mortal fame was worth the price they have to pay when they walk in to hell with the same feet that led them to slaughter so many people in their mortal life. Such a blatant example of Hawthorne talking about peoples spirituality clearly means that such a thing was important tot he way he wrote.

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many other stories, poems and novels. Many of these writings were a branch of Romanticism known as Dark Romanticism, Dark Romanticism really was a polar reaction to romanticism. Dark Romanticism was a much more negative outlook on the Romanticism period. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the story The Minister's Black Veil this story was about a man who everyone feared and pitied. Much like Hawthorne seems to pity all of the fallen heroes in his poem. He really seems to have a similar basic lay out for both his poem and his short sotry. He explains his stance and often it is a negative one. The only real difference between the short story and the poem as the length and how quickly Hawthorne had to move the plot along which was obviously much more often.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a pioneer in the field of writing, a man who chose his own path. Whether some one likes or Hawthorne of whether they dislike him no one can deny the fact that Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the most important authors in American history. A man who truly put his own life experiences int he form of fiction to the paper.





Works Cited


Cheever, Susan. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Detroit: Thorndike Press, 2006. Large print edition. ISBN 0-7862-9521-X.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Forms of Heroes, by Nathaniel Hawthorne." Poetry Archive | Poems. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. <http://www.poetry-archive.com/h/forms_of_heroes.html>.


Kartha, Deepa. "Romanticism: Characteristics of Romanticism." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 09 Dec. 2010. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/romanticism-characteristics-of-romanticism.html>.

Puckett, Adrea. "The Definition of a Hero." Go Inside Magazine Home. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. <http://goinside.com/05/12/hero.html>.