"Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne Hi roselyrose1,
Regarding the previous advice about “Literary criticism [as] a particular form of communication, with norms you should follow,” you may wish to consider the following on-line wiki articles:
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_criticism; (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_theory.
Both articles explore in some detail the question of genre, as well as an author’s “intentionality,” i.e., his motivation for writing. In fact, when considering the vast output of modern literary criticism, it is impossible for one to imagine any supposed governing “norm” that would exclude the critic’s consideration of an author’s choice of genre or his intentionality. And when one considers that today Hawthorne is arguably best known for his short stories, then any criticism of Hawthorne’s short stories that fails to mention genre and intentionality could likewise be seen as failing its readers.
Equally mystifying is the suggested “norm” to “use the present tense throughout” when writing literary criticism. A quick tour through any of the online literary criticism links provided in this limited Google search reveals such a rule to be a mere contrivance that serves no discernible purpose -- except to unnecessarily hamper the critic’s expression and style.
And finally, the very idea that there should be any “norm” that advises against “draw[ing] a moral or lesson” – especially when the criticism involves Nathaniel Hawthorne’s oeuvre – is advice to which one should absolutely pay no heed.
Peruse the links returned from the previous Google search, (which I again copy here): moral+lesson+Nathaniel+Hawthorne+criticism and you will find that those instincts that prompted you to consider an allusion to a moral or lesson in your brief criticism of Hawthorne are instincts that other more experienced critics have too followed – in vast numbers! Why?
Hawthorne’s well-known Puritan heritage and accompanying burden of guilt are compelling enough reasons:
Hawthorne was heavily influenced by his Puritan heritage. One of Hawthorne’s forefathers was Judge Hathorne, who presided over the Salem witch trials in 1692. Hawthorne carried so much guilt for his ancestor’s participation in the infamous trials that he felt compelled to change his last name, adding a "w" to change it from Hathorne to Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s sensitivity to guilt is clearly present in the Scarlet Letter, as well as some of his other works.In summary, as you work toward a finished draft of your Hawthorne criticism, continue to pay heed to those instincts that have carried you thus far. You're on a promising path. Follow it!