Alienation – a character is in a state of isolation because of self-cause, or societal cause, or a combination of both.
Initiation – involves the attempts of an alienated character to get rid of his/her isolated condition.
Problem of Guilt – a character’s sense of guilt forced by the puritanical heritage or by society; also guilt vs. innocence.
Puritan New England – used as a background and setting for many of his tales.
Some conflicts that are explored include individual vs. society, hypocrisy vs. integrity, love vs. hate, and fate vs. free will.
Source: Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 3: Nineteenth Century to 1865 - Nathaniel Hawthorne." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. http://web.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap3/hawthorne.html 7 June 2011