Essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter

1241 Words Oct 19th, 2016 5 Pages
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne’s criticism of Puritan society and his attitude toward Puritan outsiders indicates the necessity of exposure to adverse opinions and mindsets in order to effectively form one’s own opinions and moral compass. Puritan New England’s hypocrisy and overzealousness to punish indicate the inaccuracy of blind, shared opinion. Depicted in Hawthorne’s early scene, women of the town gossip as Hester stands on the scaffold regarding further deserved punishment as well as their disdain for her extravagant scarlet A. In each discussion, Hawthorne presents a majority opinion and then a secondary opinion that strays from the consensus yet proves more insightful to the reality of Hester’s situation. As the majority opinion insists upon harsher physical harm such as a “hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead,” a youthful woman sympathizes with Hester’s plight and recognizes the immense mental pain Hester suffers through as “the pang of it will always be in her heart” (Hawthorne 36-37). Such recognition proves true as Hawthorne’s narration reveals the “exquisitely painful” psychological punishment Hester endures (Hawthorne 38). Outside opinion prevails again in the young woman’s dissent with the wives’ majority opinion of Hester’s “pride” in her scarlet letter, observing that Hester “has felt it in her heart” (Hawthorne 38-39). Despite the consensus of majority opinion regarding a necessity to punish Hester’s sin further, the young…

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