Nathaniel Hawthorne Short Stories

Hawthorne’s best known collection is Twice-Told Tales from 1837. Many of the stories on this page can be found in it.

“The Wedding-Knell”

The narrator recounts the story of an unusual wedding between a man and woman in their sixties. Rather than being introduced by uplifting music, the wedding was introduced with a funeral knell instead.

This story can be read in the preview of Twice-Told Tales. (44% in)

“The Minister’s Black Veil: A Parable”

The Reverend of a small church turns up one day for the service with a black veil covering his face. His parishioners are confused and uncomfortable with the change. There is much speculation about the reason for the veil, and his congregation hopes it’s just a passing fancy.

This story can also be read in the preview of Twice-Told Tales(62% in)

“Sunday at Home”

The narrator likes to look at the church opposite his home every Sabbath, from morning till night. He watches as the sunrise illuminates it, taking a particular interest in the steeple.

This story can also be read in the above preview of Twice-Told Tales. (28 % in)

“Young Goodman Brown”

Goodman Brown has to go on a journey through the forest one night on an errand. The walk is unsettling, and he meets others from his town on the way.

This is the seventh story in the preview of 100 Great Short Stories.

“The Ambitious Guest”

A family is relaxing around the hearth. They live in a cottage by a mountain. They sometimes hear minor rock slides, but they have a safe spot nearby in case it’s more serious. A young traveler who’s passing through joins the family. He has big plans to make a name for himself. The family speaks on some of their more modest ambitions.

This is the eighth story in the preview of Classic Short Stories.

“The Birthmark”

Aylmer, an accomplished scientist, marries the beautiful Georgiana. She has a small birthmark on her left cheek. Most men have viewed it positively while women have been critical of it. Aylmer becomes fixated with removing the mark.

This story can be read in the preview of Mosses from an Old Manse. (5% in)

“Rappaccini’s Daughter”

While studying at the university in Padua, Guasconti notices Beatrice, the daughter of Rappaccini, a renowned expert on poisonous plants. He has been using his daughter in experiments, making her immune to all poisonous plants. As a side effect, she can’t touch a person without harming them.

Read here

“The Great Carbuncle”

A group of eight people rest in the Crystal Hills after an unsuccessful search for the Great Carbuncle. Although they all have their own motives, they cooperate to build a hut and start a fire. The searchers include an elderly man who’s been looking his whole life, a chemist who wants to analyze and write about the Carbuncle, a merchant who wants to sell it, a poet who wants inspiration, a prince who wants it as a family symbol, and young newlyweds who want it as a light in their house.

Read “The Great Carbuncle”

“The May-Pole of Merry Mount”

The people of Merry Mount are gathered for the wedding of a young man and woman. They’ve been celebrating heartily around the Maypole. The gathered are being watched secretly by a band of Puritans who take an extremely negative view of the party.

Read “The May-Pole of Merry Mount”

“Roger Malvin’s Burial”

In 1725, two wounded soldiers have been struggling to safety for three days. The older one, Roger, is hurt worse; he knows he won’t make it. While resting by a rock, he tells the younger one, Rueben, to go on without him. They argue about it, and Roger tells a story to persuade the younger man to leave.

Read “Roger Malvin’s Burial”

“The Wives of the Dead”

The narrator relates a story that generated some interest about a hundred years ago in the Bay Province. Two women, married to two brothers, received the news that their husbands had been killed on consecutive days. Many guests came to offer condolences, and in their shared grief, they comforted each other.

Read “The Wives of the Dead”

“The Great Stone Face”

There are thousands of residents in a valley community with different modes of life, but they all know about the Great Stone Face. In the mountains nearby, there’s a rock formation that resembles a human face. The locals are all aware of a prophecy—the one born within sight of the Great Stone Face who resembles it would be a great and noble person.

“Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”

Dr. Heidegger invites four old acquaintances over to take part in an experiment. He claims that a friend of his discovered the famed Fountain of Youth and has given him a bottle. The guests are invited to partake of the liquid.

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“My Kinsman, Major Molineux”

A young man, Robin, arrives by ferry in a New England city. He is looking for Major Molineux, but when he asks people if they know where he is, he gets anger or silence from the strangers.

Read “My Kinsman, Major Molineux”

“The Man of Adamant”

Richard Digby is a gloomy and intolerant man, with a pessimistic view of his fellows. He believes his personal philosophy is the true faith, so he decides to isolate himself. He sets out into the forest with some tools and his Bible. After walking three days, he comes upon a well-concealed cave. Digby is sure that he will be at peace here, away from the sins of others.

Read “The Man of Adamant”

“The Celestial Railroad”

In a dream, the narrator finds himself in the city of Destruction, where he learns a railroad has been built to the Celestial City. He decides to visit out of curiosity. On his way to the station, he meets Mr. Smooth-it-away, who knows all about the Celestial City and is willing to share his knowledge. At the station there are many others prepared to make the pilgrimage.

Read “The Celestial Railroad”

“The Artist of the Beautiful”

Peter Hovenden walks with his daughter, Annie, on the street outside the shop of Owen Warland. Owen was apprenticed to Peter, now retired, as a watchmaker. Peter wonders what Owen has been busy at for the past six months, as he’s sure it has nothing to do with watches. He approves of practical work, like that of a blacksmith, rather than whatever foolishness Owen is pursuing. Owen overhears the remarks and gives them some thought.

Read “The Artist of the Beautiful” 

“Ethan Brand”

Ethan arrives at a lime kiln that he used to use. He tells the lime-burner, Bartram, that he left the kiln to look for the “unpardonable sin”, which he claims he has found in himself. The townspeople are told that Ethan has returned.

Read “Ethan Brand”