Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter is considered the best of his
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Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s The Scarlet Letter is considered the best of his writings. It may also be the most strongest statement of his recurrent themes, an excellent example of his craftsmanship. Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter during emancipation of women liberation. Therefore, many of his thoughts and ideas about what was happening around him was very influential in his literature. The main thematic emphasis in The Scarlet Letter is on sin and its effects upon both the individual and society. It is frequently noted that Hawthorne’s preoccupation with sin originates from the Puritan-rooted culture in which he lived, and from his awareness of two of his own ancestors who had presided over bloody persecutions during the Salem witchcraft trials. There is a certain irony in the way in which this concept is worked out in The Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne’s pregnancy forces her sin to public view, and she is compelled to wear the scarlet “A” as a symbol of her adultery. Yet, although she is apparently isolated from the normal association with the “decent” folk, Hester, having come to terms with her sin, is inwardly reconciled to God and herself. Hester does not isolate herself from the Puritan town; instead, her isolation is inflicted upon her. Hester tries to establish a normal and honest relationship with many of the characters in the story, but sometimes it becomes very difficult.
Pearl, Hester’s daughter, becomes so closely associated with the “A” on Hester’s chest, becoming, as Hawthorne says, “the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life.” Therefore, she becomes the embodiment not only of her mother’s sin but of her conscience. Furthermore, because it is through Hester’s acceptance of punishment that she is saved, Pearl becomes the main agent in her mother’s liberation. Even though Hester has plenty of things and people to worry about, she does her best to raise her daughter with good morals and tries to educate her about honesty. Hester does get her message through to Pearl, and we recognize this when she wants to shed herself of the “A.” However, Pearl tells her mother to wear the “A” because it is a part of them now and it reflects honesty.
Arthur Dimmesdale, the father of Pearl, is a well educated and very modest man. He keeps his sin a secret for seven long years and torments his own conscience the whole time. You would think that Hester would isolate herself from Arthur to avoid their secret and try to forget about their past as much as possible. Instead, she wants to be with him because she knows how he feels. Of course, she might be doing this to eliminate suspicion from the townspeople; but, I think she just wants to be with Dimmesdale, the man she loves. She loves him so much that she does not want him to confess to his sin and offers to take full blame and punishment.
Another important unity that still remained after Hester Prynne’s sin of adultery was between herself and the Puritan people.. Even though Hester had sinned, the people in the town still talked to her and Hester still talked to them. They came to her with their problems and she tried to help. She sewed for them with one restriction, not to sew for any type of marriage ceremonies. Hester could not blame the townspeople for her punishment because they were just following their morals and what was being taught to them from the Bible. Hester did not plan to commit the sin of adultery, nor did she deliberately plan to do any harm to others. It was obvious that she deeply loved Arthur Dimmesdale and her passion for love was stronger than the New World’s Puritan code of morals. As Hester says, “What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so! We said so to each other!” Although, Hester is not a Puritan, she still has respect for the Puritan code and what they believed in. She knew that if she isolated herself from that, it would make the situation worse.
Consequently, I feel that Hester’s isolation is inflicted upon her rather than willfully sought by her. I think her attempt to establish an honest relationship with other human beings was a
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