1845 In “The Raven,” a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, the bird repeats the word “Nevermore” to accelerate a grief-stricken lover’s descent into madness.
1850 In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne has a daughter out of wedlock. The scarlet letter is “A” for “Adulteress,” which she must wear on her dress.
1851 The House of the Seven Gables, also by Hawthorne, explores guilt, retribution, and atonement, with hints of the supernatural and witchcraft.
1853 In a foreshadowing of existential literature, a legal copyist in Melville’s story Bartleby, the Scrivener politely refuses to accept his tasks, ...