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Examples Of Transcendentalism In The Scarlet Letter

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Transcending the Untranscendable German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” Nietzsche’s proclamation would be in direct opposition to Puritan societies of the 1600s. Throughout history, social movements have often been led by society’s youth. The Free Speech Movement of the 20th century originated on a college campus, and spread rapidly across the country, inspiring copious amounts of youth activism in protesting the Vietnam War. As Nietzsche suggests, a governing body is at great fault when they encourage and require conformity from their youth. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne exposes these same structural flaws of strict Puritan community and the inherent, inevitable…show more content…
However, the system’s uncompromising and authoritarian nature never thwarts Pearl, the novel’s sole child figure and a perpetual embodiment of her mother’s sin, from staying true to her bold, imaginative personality. Pearl, Hawthorne’s version of a child who defies all societal expectations in an alienating world, is both a testament to youth’s capability to rebel from and transcend oppression and a precursor of early Transcendentalism. Pearl’s behavior and physical appearance are both contrary to the expectations of Puritan doctrine. Born the daughter of Hester Prynne, the ignominious figure of sin in the town, Pearl is innately susceptible to society’s judgement: “The child could not be made amenable to rules. In giving her existence, a great law had been broken, and the result was a being whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder” (). Despite embodying her mother’s
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