People are often regarded as optimists or pessimists. The former grants people hope that things will be better and that life will eventually change in their favor. However, there are a great number of people who are ruled by the nature of pessimism. These kinds of people fail to expect a lot from life, and they keep believing that things will fail to succeed and thus they do not expect much from life. The stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne presents people with such beliefs who have a pessimistic view concerning human nature.
The story, My Kinsman, Major Molineux shows the pessimism of human nature right from the beginning when the author argues that the moves by the kings of Great Britain to appoint colonial governors were bound to fail. This is shown by the argument that the former governors in forty years had been at the losing side, with two being imprisoned by a popular insurrection while the rest were driven away by minor things (Hawthorne 332). People failed to believe there could be changes on how things had transpired in the past.
The story talks about Robin who is looking for his Kinsman, Major Molineux and in his pursuit of his whereabouts he encounters people who are only willing to help if they are helped in return. More specifically these people expect money in return. This is seen from his argument when he mutters that the ferryman might have helped locate his Kinsman if he had offered him extra money. Robin encounters hostile citizens when he inquires about the whereabouts of his kinsman in the barber shop, and this shows that the people do not relate well to the people who are supposed of their class (Hawthorne, The Norton Anthropology of American Literature). This shows that people retain a pessimistic view on human nature and believe that they cannot associate with people of a high class.
The aspect of pessimism is further presented in his story, The Birthmark. Aylmer tries to ask his wife to change his birthmark because he feels that it hinders her from attaining perfection, arguing that it might look good “upon another face” (Hawthorne 379). This brings out the notion that he wants her to change how she looks and look better because he wants her too. The pessimism of human nature is presented by the idea that he feels that her birthmark which she has had for years is not good enough for him and that it should be changed if he is to remain attracted to her.
Aylmer is a scientist and feels like nature is letting his wife down by giving her something that stains her beauty. He feels that it is unjust that nature manages to ruin something that is good with a slight defect. His field of science has made him believe that nature cannot bring out something that is complete and thus he should do something to alter this. Therefore, he suggests to his wife to get rid of the birthmark because he does not believe that nature will work in a way that will appease people completely (Hawthorne, The Birthmark). Aylmer’s wife reacts to her husband with shock and pain arguing that he should not have married her if he felt that way about her. However, this pessimism view is seen because he wants perfection and feels like nature will always provide something that is below ideal.
In conclusion, the idea of pessimism concerning human nature is seen in these stories which show that the author believes that people will always question why they have. It shows that people are not always content with what they have and they feel that life could be better if some things were a little different.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Levine, Robert S., Michael A. Elliot and Sandra M. Gustafson. The Norton Anthropology of American Literature. 9. Vol. B. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. 332-340.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Levine, Robert S., Michael A. Elliot and Sandra M. Gustafson. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 9. Vol. B. W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. 377-388.