How Does Nathaniel Hawthorne Use Irony In The Scarlet Letter

Improved Essays
Imagine you are in a world where everybody is fake. Everybody is wearing a mask, hiding behind their secrets because they are afraid of being judged. Nobody actually knows each other, nobody is brave enough to be the one who admits when they have done wrong. Until one day, a girl is caught doing something out of the ordinary, an action that is typically frowned upon. The entire town finds out and immediately, they all hate her. They talk behind her back, call her names, and damage her reputation forever. But, secretly, all of those people had their secrets too. They have all done things they were not supposed to. And the one time someone takes responsibility for her actions, she gets punished. Isn’t that ironic? Well, that is exactly what happens …show more content…
The book is centered around Hester Prynne, a young woman who had sex outside of her marriage. She is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her breast for the rest of her life. She lives in a society of “puritans”, people who focus their whole lives on religion and the bible, and because of this, they are very unforgiving towards her sin. The author of the book, however, disagrees with this. He believes that the puritans all had sins they never shared, and that the rules they lived their life by were simply stupid. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses irony to criticize the puritan ideals.
The man who Hester had sex with happened to be the towns minister, Dimmesdale. She is forced to stand on a scaffold in front of the whole town where Dimmesdale is interrogating her. It is ironic that Dimmesdale is the pastor because according to puritan beliefs, he has committed one of the worst sins of all time, even though it was in secret. One of the
…show more content…
They are clearly an unstable society with no real morals and Hawthorne hated this about them. So, he wrote the Scarlet Letter and filled it with irony to specifically criticize the puritan ideals. The puritans believed that Dimmesdale was their holy pastor, yet he was ironically one of the biggest sinners in their colony. They also believed that sin should be publically shamed, but ironically only in Hester because they are all sinners secretly 1124124at heart. This is the world where everybody is fake, everybody wears a mask. The puritans are not meant to be an appealing society, but Hawthorne clearly intended for the readers to feel this

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    Chillingworth is a hypocrite because he pretends to be Dimmesdale’s friend while secretly tormenting him. "We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man 's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart.…

    • 1142 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    While Hester could openly admit to the sin she has committed and deal with her punishment, Dimmesdale had to put on a face and uphold his religious position in society. Out of all the characters in the novel dealing with sin had the greatest toll on Dimmesdale, causing him to go insane and physically ill. Because of this the Hawthorne portrays Dimmesdale as one of the most conflicted characters in the book. Dimmesdale cowardice and selfishness certainly influence the reader’s perspective on him, especially when he could come forth about his sin in other situations. “Believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life." (65) In this scene, Dimmesdale has an opportunity to finally admit to his sin, but instead he encourages Hester to do the admitting for him.…

    • 1061 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As Pearl grows up she learns that everyone is mean to her so she is mean back because she doesn't know what nice is and doesn't know how to be nice. Hawthorne's use of the symbol is that Pearl isn't just the product of sin but she is the meaning of Hester's life. Hester has thoughts of killing herself and Pearl during the novel. She is the living version of the scarlet letter, but she also symbolizes the passion that happened between Hester and Dimmesdale during the sin. The Puritan use of this symbol has religious implication because they think Pearl is a product from the devil.…

    • 877 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    No individual, however, deserves the suffering these accused witches are forced to experience. Their society turned its back on them; they are beaten, tortured, humiliated, excommunicated. These previously God-loving citizens were warped for straying from their religion’s ideals. At one point, Reverend Hale approaches Proctor and his wife begging the question, “. .…

    • 799 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne uses characterization to establish a tone of victimization throughout The Scarlet Letter. The people torment Hester Prynne and little Pearl through exclusion and mortification. Pearl suffers further from her stubborn and adventurous nature. Reverend Dimmesdale inflicts harsh punishments against himself out of guilt, resentment and shame for his sin. The deceptions that Boston’s naive masses believe make them the prey of ignorance.…

    • 838 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    I believe that Dimmesdale’s sin is the worst. This has nothing to do with his personality, because if that was the reason, I would have given that ‘award’ to Chillingworth. And even though Hester and Dimmesdale committed the same sin (with each other), I believe Dimmesdale’s sin is the worst primarily because of his position in the town. The Puritan’s were very string with their culture, morals, and beliefs, and completely went against the Church of England. With a faction like this in New England, you can’t blame the town’s sin for casting off Hester from society, because we have the previous knowledge of the stric Puritan society.…

    • 840 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The imagery used by Hawthorne shows how confused the entire crowd is and that none of them approve of Mr. Hooper wearing the black veil. As the congregation is murmuring about their surprise towards the minister the tone creates a weary image of the crowd. Moreover, when the narrator is describing the pros and cons to the veil he states, “[Mr. Hooper] became a man of awful power over souls that were in agony for sin” (Hawthorne 10). Hawthorne also uses imagery in this example to show the sorrowful tone shadowing Mr. Hooper’s veil. The minister had been shut out from society, therefore became too close to his own and others’ sins.…

    • 1139 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Although Hester committed adultery, and Chillingworth allowed hatred to consume his soul, Dimmesdale has a number of sins marked under his name including dishonesty, self-harm, and, of course, adultery that morbidly warped who he was a man and what he meant as a bringer of faith. These acts of impurification make him the worst sinner of them all. He committed the same sin as Hester, however he goes a little further into this same sin. Adultery is already treated as the ultimate shame in the Puritan community but, on top of this, Dimmesdale hides the truth of this affair from his followers, which makes him a false representation of faith and purification. For a Puritan, the only thing worse than committing a terrible sin like adultery is failing to admit to it due often to their ideal of “playing God” and punishing the sinner themselves for their transgressions.…

    • 276 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The people who gave her this punishment were very unjust because this is, or can be, overeating to something very simple. Judgment also goes along with injustice. Anything in the Scarlet Letter can be judgment from them condemning her, to their prejudice and criticism of her acts. There were large amounts of hypocrisy as well. Everything the puritans despised, lying, gossiping, and judging, they did themselves.…

    • 1198 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Before I read Act 3, Shylock has always been portrayed as a villainous figure who is vengeful and evil, the antagonist of the play, someone for us to dislike and hate. Shylock also seemed like a pretty flat character. However, after reading this scene from Act 3, I realise that that is not necessarily the case. I feel that Shylock is also a victim who has suffered from much disgrace and prejudice from the Christians in silence, and his villainous actions are really just an accumulation of all the mistreatment and ostracization he has received from the Christians over something he has no control over – his race. He has been unjustly victimized and for that I feel empathetic towards him.…

    • 1063 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays