The Gray Champion is a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I am familiar with Hawthorne’s work but I have never read anything written by him yet. I thought starting with this short story is a good way to delve into Hawthorne’s writing style and his works.
The Gray Champion is set in pre-revolution Boston. The colony is being ruled by a Governor who has been exploiting the rights of its people. He is on the streets facing a rebellious crowd with churchmen and mercenaries at his side. When things threaten to reach a violent conflict, an old man dressed in ancient armor confronts the Governor. He also prophesizes the end of King James’s power and the rise of William as King.
I research a little about the exact period when the story is set and it helped me understand its historical context of it. In 1686, King James II was the ruler at the time and had converted England back to Catholicism. But his reign was coming to an end. In 1689, he lost his throne to William, (Became William III of England) his daughter’s husband. The story is set just a few days before the fall of King James II.
The story is patriotic in nature. The rights of people were being abused under Governor Sir Edmund. People are fed up with the end of self-governance and such a disregard for their rights. It alludes to the rebellion against tyranny that happened during the American Revolution. This old man is the one person who stands up tall against oppression and comes to aid his fellow citizen. The Gray Champion as he is called shows that only one man is needed to change the tide of things or start it at least. It does have Catholic superstitious themes but I didn’t understand them right away. I read about it later and it made sense.
The story from the beginning is straightforward with its approach. The themes of patriotism and revolting against tyranny are pretty explicit throughout the story. The way it is written, you can imagine the scene in front of you, and has a good flow to it. The characterization of The Gray Champion is very strongly done. It almost feels like a ghost story at times with its setting and descriptions and it also reminds me of superhero stories.
The Gray Champion by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an interesting story. I was kind of expecting it to be a little mystical and it was a little but not how I expected it. The story keeps up a good pace and once I read about the historical content it made more sense. I liked reading it.
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