Essay on The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1243 Words Aug 27th, 2016 5 Pages
"It made her the very brightest little jet of flame that ever danced upon the earth" (Hawthorne, p.96). ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ written by the critically acclaimed author Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a suspenseful and dramatic novel that follows the struggles and triumphs of Hester Prynne as she attempts to preserve her personality. Born in England in the seventeenth century, Hester’s husband, Chilingworth, sends her across the world to Boston, before becoming lost at sea. Presuming him as dead, Hester falls in love with her minister, Dimmesdale, and becomes pregnant as a result. She is found guilty of being an adulteress, and must wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ as her punishment. Sequestered from society, Hester must learn to raise her child alone, and protect Dimmesdale from her ruthless, revenge-seeking husband. The author makes the key theme of individuality strikingly apparent through the four elements of the novel, characters, symbols, plot, and setting. He cleverly uses the main protagonist, Hester, to present this theme.

The central theme of individuality is exemplified through Hester Prynne’s abundance of it, especially amidst strict social conformity. When Hester commits adultery, she breaks free from the chains of a harsh and unforgiving society. Hester’s town forces its citizens to conform to its sumptuary rules, and any breach of that conformity is considered a threat to its security. The citizens in Hester’s community often lost their individuality to these relentless…

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