Society's Pursuit Of Happiness In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1038 Words 5 Pages
Happiness is a strange word. For some, to be happy is to lead a life of wealth and comfort with a family and lots of friends. For others, to be happy is to live in a peaceful and successful community. A person that follows the first path is considered an individual that makes finding their own happiness their first priority. A person that follows the second path is considered an individual that believes the society’s prosperity takes priority over an individual’s success in life. Now the big question is, which one is more important-- an individual’s “pursuit of happiness” or a society’s need for peace and prosperity? Considering the growth and development of modern society today as well as the mindset of an individual, an individual’s pursuit …show more content…
The Puritan society itself, after seeing Hester’s honest work, changes the meaning of her scarlet token of ignominy, “many people refused to interpret the scarlet “A” by its original signification. They said that it meant “Able” to symbolize Hester’s contributions to society (Hawthorne, 145). Hester, as an individual, had changed society’s view of her and her scarlet letter for the better. Pearl, child of Hester and Dimmesdale, also enjoys better treatment as the Puritans began to recognize “from the indescribable charm of beauty and eccentricity that shone through her little figure” the brilliant quality of her purity, which they had previously regarded as the mischievous traits of a “demon offspring” (Hawthorne, 222). In his essay “Self-Reliance,” Emerson suggests that geniuses like Socrates and Luther were often misunderstood because their studies revealed contradictions to their own claims. But in his perspective, “to be great is to be misunderstood” because it shows that you are unique and follow your own philosophy. In acknowledging their own mistakes, they contributed new information to society for future generations to build upon. If not for these individuals, society would not be the same as it is today with all the advanced technology and theories waiting to be overturned so that society can grow even more with the new knowledge

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