The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

1079 Words Nov 9th, 2015 5 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter addresses numerous themes. It is a commentary on punishment, on society, on religion, on passion, on love, on revenge. These are just a few examples of the vast array of topics that the scarlet letter addresses, whether Hawthorne was aware of them or not. While he does use some traditional methods to convey his themes, his style of writing is particularly unique, in that Hawthorne uses the physical appearances and mental states of his characters to detail certain themes. Some of the largest and most blatant examples of themes he addresses in this manner are those of punishment and the acceptance or rejection of it, the guilt and redemption of sin, and the struggle between good and evil. The first major theme of this novel is punishment, and subsequently the rejection and acceptance of punishment, as well as the ramifications of punishment. The most obvious example of symbolism for this theme is Hester Prynne. Hawthorne uses Hester, and sometimes interactions between her and other characters, to show the effects of punishment in Puritan society. With the possible exception of Dimmesdale, Hester is Hawthorne’s most prominent use of physical change to show a theme. Before her punishment, Hester “was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. She had dark and abundant hair and a face which had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. She was ladylike too” (Hawthorne 81). She was a picture of…

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