The Theme Of Love In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne And Washington Square

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“Let them love!” This was a common thought that passed through my mind when reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Square by Henry James. An inability to love afflicts both of those books’ protagonists, Hester Prynne and Catherine Sloper, respectively. More specifically, the price they pay for their love impairs both of these characters, but the reality of their attractions differs. Hester’s consummates her passion for Arthur Dimmesdale before her story begins. And Catherine’s affections for Morris Townsend are ideals rather than realities. If Catherine were to possess such a passion as Hester does, she would be able to make the decision between filial love and romantic love because she would have a greater conviction …show more content…
She exercises “a magnetic power over [Arthur’s] spirit” and wields a “rich, voluptuous… characteristic” (Hawthorne, 183 & 78) with the result that Hester rises above the romantic capacity of a normal woman. Hawthorne exaggerates Hester’s passion to such a degree that it is almost supernatural, a symbol rather than a reality. She embodies such a power in order to highlight the injustice of the Puritan community’s actions: to imprison, excommunicate, and forsake a woman who wields such vehemence is an injustice of the greatest degree. The citizens of Boston, at this time, were “a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical” (Hawthorne, 47). As such, they view adultery, mentioned in the Ten Commandments, to be an intolerable and vile act. They cast her out to a cottage and shun her when she appears in public with the scarlet letter A. So the harshest of people choke off her love. Hester, goddess of warmth, attraction, and affection, is shackled down by a cruel society that uses every available means to prevent Hester and Morris from engaging in the passion she …show more content…
The injustice of society traps her love, and I believe this is where most of the pain and hurt she feels comes from. Yes, she has compunction for her sin, but the thought of subduing a magnificent passion most certainly caused her to sorrow. Her passion existed in a “deathlike slumber” (Hawthorne, 190) that certainly taunted her and made her long for Hawthorne. Likewise, it is not the public shame connected with the scarlet letter A that hurts her, but the passion associated with it that was “crushed so deeply into her heart that it can never show itself more” (Hawthorne, 151). Her love is buried, and it hurts her. We know that it was the act of suppressing her love that caused her so much pain, for when she and Arthur rekindle their love her “sex, her youth, and the whole richness of her beauty, came back from… the irrevocable past” (Hawthorne 189) and she feels happiness again. Her passion, once buried, awakens and causes the forest to supernaturally fill with light, further proof of her goddess-like

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