As people grow older, they tend to forget how pure and innocent it once was to be a child. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Little Annie’s Ramble,” Hawthorne reflects strongly on that thought. Clearly a work of Romanticism, the short story tells a tale of a man who befriends a little girl as they take a trip to the circus. Throughout the story, Hawthorne is using bright, colorful language, and he puts great emphasis on the sights they see around them. Nathaniel Hawthorne grew up in a family whose ancestors were part of the Salem witch trials (“Meet” 278). Because of this, Hawthorne strongly questioned what was right and what was wrong, leading him to write many stories that had a moral principle (“Meet” 278). It is very clear, while reading “Little Annie’s Ramble,” he is trying to show morals; Hawthorne discussed moralities several times throughout the story. In reading other stories by Hawthorne, it is obvious that there is a pattern to his writings; “The Minister’s Black Veil” portrays a story that is clearly much different than “Little Annie’s Ramble,” but it is told using the same writing method. It too, has an evident moral. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a man strongly influenced by his childhood who has written many great works of Romanticism; he presents a story that will make the reader think while also learning valuable morals regarding society.

One of the key aspects of American Romanticism is “preferring youthful innocence to educated sophistication” (Langley). Hawthorne certainly portrayed that characteristic in his story “Little Annie’s Ramble.” The story begins with a man hearing the town crier’s announcement, declaring the arrival of the circus (Hawthorne “Little”). The man then sees a little girl, Annie, standing on her front step, looking eager to see what the crier had been speaking of. Walking up to Annie, the man holds out his hand, and together they begin to embark on an adventure, exploring the town and all the sights passing them by as they make their way to the circus. Although Annie never says a word, the man seems excessively overjoyed, as if just being with a young child is making himself a young boy again. Throughout the story, Hawthorne is incredibly descriptive of the child’s emotions and actions. For example, at one point, he and Annie see a street musician and Hawthorne describes how Annie’s eyes become bright with pleasure (Hawthorne “Little”). This example defines Romanticism even more as Hawthorne elaborates, explaining how Annie starts dancing to the music and expressing how as people get older they no longer are free to dance as Annie does. As he is describing the issues that cause older people to refrain from dancing, he says “(…) but many, many have leaden feet, because their hearts are far heavier than lead” (Hawthorne “Little”). This clearly depicts one of the strongest aspects of Hawthorne’s writing that categorizes him as a Romanticism author. Hawthorne is showing how the pure innocence of a child is so much greater than the thoughts and feelings of one as they age. As people get older, they become more prone to all the thoughts of others and the society; they begin to see the world as their leaders or government officials want them to see it. A child, however, experiences none of those sights. A child sees not what others see, but what they themselves see, and they are not afraid to express their emotions clearly and without doubt. The fact that Hawthorne puts incredible emphasis on this throughout the entire story shows how strongly Romanticism is being portrayed throughout it.

Another key aspect in Romanticism is the use of descriptive, flowery language (Langley). Hawthorne certainly displays that throughout “Little Annie’s Ramble.” Hawthorne clearly depicts everything that is seen. As previously stated, all statements about Annie are very descriptive and vivid. However, it is not just the child that he expresses so clearly. Hawthorne writes about the “tramp of footsteps, the buzz of voices, and the war of passing wheels” (Hawthorne “Little”). He describes the pies in a bakery for almost an entire paragraph; recalling the ingredients, the texture, the taste, and the shapes (Hawthorne “Little”). This kind of writing is typical for Romanticism writings. Opposed to the Puritan works of art, which are commonly written in simple sentences without much description, Romanticism is known for going into incredible detail (Langley). This trait allows the story to become more real to the reader; one would feel as if they are actually in the character’s shoes. Hawthorne certainly fits the Romanticism classification; almost every sentence written in his short story “Little Annie’s Ramble” includes some kind of bright description or elaboration.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s childhood had a very great impact on his writing style. Hawthorne, who was born in Salem, had ancestors who were involved in the Salem witch trials; one of his relatives was even one of the judges who decided who would be hung (“Meet” 278). This had a big influence on Hawthorne as he was growing up. He spent much time as a child alone in the woods, thinking about complex scenarios in which morals were put to the test. Hawthorne would think through situations, trying to understand what decisions he felt would be right or wrong (“Meet” 278). This tendency is very evident in his writings. In “Little Annie’s Ramble,” Hawthorne discusses morals and decision-making quite often. For example, he writes, “So, come, Annie; but if I moralize as we go, do not listen to me; only look about you, and be merry!” (Hawthorne “Little”). The man says this to Annie at the beginning of the story, and, as he predicted, he does moralize as he goes. As he and Annie partake in their adventure, he often comments on how great the children are, how dirty the city is, and how peaceful life could be if nature was a bigger part of life instead of all of the technology that has evolved. This, too, shows his Romanticism traits; he put a large focus on how nature is not appreciated in the towns (Hawthorne “Little”). Throughout the entire story, Hawthorne focuses on the decisions being made by the man and Annie as well as the morality of society. Hawthorne provides reasoning for all of the man’s actions, such as why he randomly just took Annie to the circus without asking for permission or letting anyone know. An action that could have been viewed as disturbing or unsettling is actually justified for as Hawthorne explains that it is important to view life from a child’s eyes every once in a while; one needs to spend time with a child every now in then in order to remember their innocence and their purity (Hawthorne “Little”). Basically, throughout Little Annie’s Ramble, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s childhood shone through in that he would give justification for almost every decision made by the man. Knowing that Hawthorne spent so much time as a child trying to figure out justifications for certain situations, his writing style as an adult makes complete sense.

Nathaniel Hawthorne does seem to have a distinct writing style that he continues to write in throughout many of his writings. As previously stated, he deals with morals and decision making throughout “Little Annie’s Ramble.” When reading “The Minister’s Black Veil,” also by Hawthorne, one would most likely realize that it too deals with morals. Although Hawthorne does not focus so much on the morals of the overall society throughout “The Minister’s Black Veil” as he does in “Little Annie’s Ramble,” he puts a heavy emphasis on the topic at the end of the story. As the minister is passing away, he expresses his disgust in the people in his town, explaining that once he began wearing the veil, everybody started treating him differently (Hawthorne “The Minister’s” 289). Nobody knew why he was wearing the veil; people he used to be friends with turned away in disgust just because of his black veil (Hawthorne “The Minister’s” 298). This displays Hawthorne’s taste of distinguishing from right and wrong, which was also used in “Little Annie’s Ramble.”

Another similarity between Hawthorne’s “Little Annie’s Ramble” and “The Minister’s Black Veil” is the setting. Both stories take place in a town, and it seems to be a busy downtown area. Each story begins with the ringing of a bell, and they both involve a corrupt society. Taken into consideration, it is evident that Hawthorne enjoys writing about the faults of society. Throughout “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hawthorne describes how people turned their back on a pure and innocent man just because of a physical flaw (Hawthorne “The Minister’s” 289). One of the main focuses of “Little Annie’s Ramble” is the destruction of nature and simple life because of society (Hawthorne “Little”). While the context of both short stories written by Hawthorne are obviously very different and tell completely unlike tales, the overall themes seem to be very similar indeed.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a great Romanticism writer. His stories reflected many Romanticism traits such as his joy for the pure children, his flowery and descriptive words, and his preference of nature over society. Hawthorne’s life is evident in his writings; growing up with a background linked to the Salem witch trials led Hawthorne to question what should really be considered right and wrong, leading him to write stories with evident morals. “Little Annie’s Ramble,” while unique in its storyline, is also quite similar to his short story “The Minister’s Black Veil;” although the stories are not alike, they display the same themes and general ideas. Overall, Hawthorne was a Romanticism author who wrote stories that would draw a reader in and keep them entertained while also becoming informed of Hawthorne’s views regarding the morals of society.


WORKS CITED

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Little Annie's Ramble." Ibiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive. Web. 08 Dec. 2010. <http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/nh/annie.html>.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Minister's Black Veil." American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 280-89. Print.

Langley, John. “Romanticism 1800-1860.” Mr. Langley's Digital Classroom. 24 Oct. 2010. Web. 08 Dec. 2010. <http://sites.google.com/site/mrlangleysroom/treasure-chest/presentations>. Microsoft Powerpoint File.

“Meet Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1846).” American Literature. Comp. Jeffery D. Wilhelm. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009. 278. Print.