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The Hollow Of The Three Hills Essay, Research Paper
The Hollow of the Three Hills is a story of dishonor,
deceit, and death. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorn portrays
the main character as a beautiful woman with a shameful and
abominable past. She tries to run from her problems but
comes to find out no matter how big or small a problem,
trying to run from it will only make the problem follow.
The main character was so driven by curiosity and
remorse that she brought herself to go see a witch. They
met in a place described by Hawthorne as “a hollow basin,
almost mathematically circular, two or three hundred feet in
breadth,…the resort of the Power of Evil and his plighted
subjects.”(Hawthorne 103) This describes the character as
someone who is a plighted subject who had such a secret that
she had to be where “no mortal could observe them”(Hawthorne
103) She wanted this witch to help her see and hear what was
happening with her loved ones; but she only had one hour to
do so and after this one hour she would die Hawthorne did
not come out and say this but in saying things like “there
is but a short hour that we may tarry here.”(Hawthorne 103)
and I will do your bidding though I die(Hawthorne 103). She
had run from everything that was important to her because
the most important, was dying. Hawthorne was not too clear
in stating what exactly the problem was but it seemed that
her daughter had fallen ill.
Throughout the story Hawthorne masks this fact well and
uses foreshadowing nicely. In one part where the main
character is looking in on her parents by means of the
witches powers and Hawthorne describes her parents as
speaking “…of a daughter, a wanderer they knew not where,
bearing dishonor along with her, and leaving shame and
affliction to bring their gray heads to the grave. They
alluded also to other and more recent woe,”(Hawthorne 104)
The daughter wandering bearing shame is the main character,
who tried to run from her problem which was what they spoke
of next. The more recent woe they were alluding to was
their granddaughter’s death.
Next the main character looked in upon her husband
which she had left to bear the brunt of their daughter’s
mourning. The main character had left her husband all alone
in the world except for their dying daughter and was now
feeling such remorse that she had to see a witch just to
know how he was. He was not well at all, for she had broken
his heart and “he spoke of a woman’s perfidy, of a wife who
had broken her holiest vows”(Hawthorne 104). Not only had
she left him with pain and suffering for their child but she
had also left him with pain and aversion towards her.
She tried to run away from her daughter’s sickness and
encroaching death, but by doing so only brought guilt and
remorse upon herself. She must have known that her husband
would have strong feelings of antipathy towards her and
still willingly looked in on his life to see how he was.
The part in the story when she looked back towards her
husband was the part of the story that stuck out the most as
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style of writing. This was a good
example of his ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’. She felt such remorse
for leaving that the only good thing to do was to check up
on him and see if he was all right. Nathaniel Hawthorne
uses the ‘Puritan Guilt Ethic’ in most of his short stories
and novels and this is one example of him using it.
The last thing the woman does out of guilt is checks up
on her daughter. The witch uses her powers to allow the
main character to look back at her daughter; but when she
looks back for her daughter she doesn’t see her all she sees
is a funeral procession.
The daughter died of her illness as Hawthorne
foreshadowed throughout the short story by writing such
things as “into the tone of a death bell”(Hawthorne 105) and
“like lamplight on the wall of a sepulchre.”(Hawthorne 103)
The main character left her daughter to die and that is just
what happened. Looking back in retrospect the main
character probably would have stayed with her daughter.
She cared enough to give her life for just one hour of
looking in on the ones she loved and more than likely would
have liked to be their with them in this time of mourning.
Not only could she have been there to help them but more
importantly they could have been there to help her. As a
mother watching her daughter’s funeral brigade must have
broken her heart but watching it through a witches spell
must have shattered it.
Hawthorne’s main character chose to run like a coward
and in the end paid the worst consequence of all. She gave
up her life to witness the pain and suffering she had cause
others. With her daughter dead by disease, her husband
infuriated with hatred and pain, and her parents filled with
disgust and humiliation she had no one that cared about her
all because she couldn’t handle the emotional stress. How
much emotional stress does it seem she caused to others in
the end though? She tried to escape her duties as a wife
and mother but they just followed her to the very end.
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