Gothic Literature Essay

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Published in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is a piece of Gothic literature that has become a staple of high school learning and woven itself, quite ironically, into popular culture. Examples of this can be seen in movies (The plot of Easy A is loosely based on the novel) and music. (The lyrics of the Metallica song “Thorn Within” can be taken as a direct reflection of the novel.) But what defines Gothic literature? Gothic literature is typically defined as a work of literature that exhibits the following properties: A Gothic hero that has a sense of suffering and ambiguous morals; an atmosphere of decay; an aura of mystery, sin, crime, guilt, and secrets; powerful, confused emotions; and has a woman with a threatening …show more content…
This is typically seen in Reverend Dimmesdale’s feelings of guilt. Dimmesdale feels guilty because he purposely did not admit to committing adultery with the novel’s protagonist, Hester Prynne, while questioning Hester on the identity of her baby’s father. Dimmesdale’s feelings of guilt are further explored in the novel’s numerous scaffold scenes. Another source of powerful, confused emotions in the novel is Hester’s feelings toward her illegitimate daughter, Pearl. At times, Hester finds the actions and knowledge of Pearl to be akin to witchcraft and reacts mentally likewise. Despite this, Hester still loves Pearl as her own, even stating to Governor Bellingham that “Pearl keeps [her] here in life” (116). This shows that while Pearl is a peculiar child, Hester loves her all the same and Pearl is the only person that keeps her from committing suicide. Yet another significant source of powerful, confused emotions is Roger Chillingworth’s feelings towards Hester and Pearl. Chillingworth (Hester’s husband) feels greatly wronged by Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin and spends the majority of the novel enacting revenge on Dimmesdale. Despite this, Chillingworth willingly admits that he wronged Hester by forcing a youth like hers into a marriage with an old man such as himself. He also leaves Pearl his vast fortune after dying, despite Pearl being the illegitimate child of Hester and Dimmesdale and

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