Comparing Love In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter 'And Henry James' Washington Square

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Love is a “feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” (Merriam-Webster). Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Henry James’ Washington Square comment on love through two romances. The Scarlet Letter and Washington Square are centered around a heroine, Hester Prynne and Catherine Sloper, respectively. Hawthorne explores the effects of being unable to love publicly by having Hester be publicly shamed of her love and sexual activity. James displays how damaged Catherine has become because she has never known or felt love. We begin to consider the general effects and power of love reading James’ and Hawthorne’s novels, recognizing that ability to love entirely dictates many facets of life. In Catherine’s case, it led to permanent damage resulting in a loveless life. Yet in Hester’s case it empowered her and gave her the courage to stand against society and fight for who she loved. Catherine loved to be loved. Hester loved and reaped the benefits. The difference drawn between the romance of Washington Square and The Scarlet Letter is that Washington Square details a ‘love’ brought by insecurity of self, but The Scarlet Letter …show more content…

Catherine’s love was a shallow one. Her father, Dr. Sloper, points out that “[she has] known him a very short time” (James. 61). Catherine believes “it doesn’t take long to like a person” (James. 61), feeling that she is “very old… and very wise” (James 62). This declaration of love seems almost as if Catherine is using her feelings to explain to her father that she is a grown and well thought woman. Did Catherine use her love with Morris Townsend to make herself feel secure, grown-up, and sophisticated? I could agree that her ‘love’ came from wanting to prove to herself that she was something more than “docile, obedient” (James. 10) and “simple” (James.

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