Comparing 'New English Canaan And The Maypole Of Merrymount'

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A Historical Romance of Entertainment and Morality Most readers would not generally consider a story with a moral to be very attention holding; however, a well written story can effectively incorporate both entertainment and morality. Both the “New English Canaan” by Thomas Morton and “The Maypole of Merrymount” by Nathaniel Hawthorne describe the town of Merrymount and the Puritans' disdain towards the festivities held there. However, as a historical romance, Hawthorne's story uses supernatural elements, an exploration of human psychology, and interpretive ambiguity to re-imagine Morton's community history to provide more entertainment and a clearer moral message. Although it is clear that Thomas Morton was immensely against the Puritans in…show more content…
Morton states that the Puritans, “(like overgrown bears) seemed monstrous,” and while they make a “great show of religion,” have “no humanity” (Morton 162, 164). This shows Morton’s extreme dislike for the Puritans. On the other hand, Hawthorne’s story takes into account the feelings of both the merrymakers and the Puritans. By showing both sides, it is unclear whether Hawthorne sides with the merrymakers or the Puritans. This ambiguity leaves all interpretation up to the reader. When Endicott saves the young couple at the end of the story, it is seen as an act of compassion. However, this act could also be seen as a religious duty to convert the couple who has potential. Endicott might not have saved them from the kindness of his heart, but from his duty as a religious figure. One can argue that Hawthorne sides with the merrymakers by calling the Puritans “grim” and “dismal wretches” (Hawthorne 405). On the other hand, Hawthorne could also be considered as siding with the Puritans. He describes a scene where the revelers were seen “following a flower decked corpse, with merriment and festive music, to his grave,” but Hawthorne states that, through all the jollity, the “dead man” never laughed (Hawthorne 406). This satirizes the festivities held by the merrymakers, and makes it seem like Hawthorne is scorning them. Hawthorne offers these conflicting interpretations in order to allow the reader to come to his or her own conclusions, and by doing so the reader is more likely to stay entertained, rather than when only one point of view is shown, such as in Morton’s

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