Themes In Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, focuses its attention around many predominant themes, which generate innumerable interpretations. Motifs such as adultery, revenge, and forgiveness are prevalent within the novel based on Puritan locale. The characters of Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, each exhibit behaviors, which have been placed upon them by the burdens in their everyday lives. The Scarlett Letter focuses on the puritanical judgment of what is deemed a sinful act and how this same act affects the three aforementioned characters who share this secret in an entirely different way. Hester Prynne impresses the reader by proving that she is unmoved by the public’s judgment, and this ability …show more content…
Pearl is the beatific outcome of the repressed heart of her mother and is a symbol of the love and passion between Hester and her father. For this reason, Hester is able to retain her secret without the strong culpability that Dimmesdale experiences. She does not believe in society’s responsibility or right to arbitrate people or regulate how they must live. Instead, she uses experience to become more introspective and objective. “...that Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom...had the the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (Hawthorne 37). Hester proves her critics wrong when she transforms from a sweet unknowing girl to a wiser, serious, and more forward-thinking woman. Notwithstanding her public service and advance in common recognition, she realizes that she is eternally contaminated by society, and her generosity does not make up for her lack of adherence to Puritan doctrine. Chapter 18 …show more content…
“Had I one friend, —or were it my worst enemy! —to whom, when sickened with the praises of all other men, I could daily betake myself, and be known as the vilest of all sinners, methinks my soul might keep itself alive thereby. Even thus much of truth would save me! But now, it is all falsehood! —all emptiness! —all death!” (Hawthorne 131). In contrast to Hester, Reverend Dimmesdale is viewed by Puritan society as one of the most respectable men in all of Massachusetts, which makes his affliction more unbearable. While hiding his burden, Dimmesdale is also forced to represent the church in an appropriate manner for he must preserve his well-regarded Reverend stature. When the Reverend decides that he wishes to escape the Puritan lifestyle and go to Europe, his entire perspective on society and church rule seem to alter. He physically and mentally declines. "He tells you, ...his own red stigma is no more than the type of what has seared his inmost heart!....Behold a dreadful witness of it!" (Hawthorne 174). In the end, Dimmesdale attempts to focus on a Puritanical path and due to his actions, he condemns himself and resorts to self-flagellation through mental anguish and physical

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