Social Criticism Of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's ' The Scarlet Letter '

786 Words Nov 14th, 2016 4 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Social Criticism
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lampoon of patriarchal society is exemplified in his work The Scarlet Letter, in which a woman is ostracized by the prejudices of the masculine society that she is a part of. The society of the 1800s, which was the time of publication of the novel, was one of heavy oppression towards women, and many of these women were surging back against the patriarchy, bolstered by support from influential people like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Stanton. The Scarlet Letter was written as a means to advocate the feminist movement of the 19th century, and to expand upon the idea that men aren’t without flaws either and therefore unfit to single-handedly control all of the power in society.
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, in The Scarlet Letter, is utilized by Hawthorne to illustrate the deficiencies of men when given a disproportionate amount of power in society. Hawthorne portrays Dimmesdale as a pasquinade of male leaders of his own day by giving him an almost god-like status with the common folk while also having committed a sin as grievous as adultery. The statement “In discussing the sphere of man we do not decide his rights as an individual, as a citizen, as a man, by his duties as a father, a husband, a brother or a son, some of which he may never undertake,” (The Solitude of Self) exemplifies the double standard that existed for men and women of this time. Men were given their rights based on the fact that they were…

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