Although they had no problem with music as a solemn accompaniment to ceremonies, the Puritans were vehemently against it as a form of merry-making. Like other recreations, it was supposed to engender idleness and draw the mind away from the contemplation of God. Similarly, the reverence for the written word which the Puritans brought with them entailed an understanding of literature as a means through which God’s message could be disseminated and reflected upon. It was certainly not for entertainment. Hawthorne’s ancestors would never have encountered a novel — America’s first did not appear until 1789, when William Hill Brown’s Power of Sympathy was published — but he is right that they would have regarded his occupation with repugnance.
Hawthorne made the Puritan aversion to entertainments a central theme of his 1837 short story ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount.’ Read it here.