Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a multitude of imagery and symbolism to serve as metaphors for different themes in his novel The Scarlet Letter. The theme sin versus guilt, appears often throughout the novel. It is often accompanied by the symbol of the scarlet letter, serving as a constant reminder of the guilt each of the main characters carry, as a result of the sins they have committed.
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, one of the protagonists of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, stands as a highly conflicted character. The source of his divide stems from the consequences of private sins, and is prevalent within the first paragraphs of Chapter 12, “The Minister’s Vigil,” where the narration chronicles Dimmesdale’s surroundings as he dream walks through the town in a state of limbo. He is portrayed as a model citizen who lacks moral imperfections to the general public yet suffers privately from the juxtaposition of his sins to his position within the community. In this specific passage, Hawthorne uses somber diction and imagery to illustrate Dimmesdale’s strife, while portraying his internal conflict through the formation
The society of prejudgments and pity, the place of sin and virtue, the center of true love and hate- these all are the ambiguities of the N.Hawthorne’s novel. The Scarlet Letter, among all these things, also presents the polysemantic view on the Native Americans. Many scholars noticed that Hawthorn refers to Indians throughout his work, but mostly all of them viewed these references as the necessary subjects for the historical aspect of the novel. However, I would argue that these references have a more specific and rectilinear nature. Additionally, the area, in which Hawthorne settles the novel- his birth town Salem - was not a random pick. The society of Salem shaped Hawthorne’s views on Indians.
Hawthorne uses many forms of rhetoric to portray his characters, but relies heavily on pathos in the instance of Hester Prynne. She’s a member of an inherently misogynistic society, and because she’s a woman, her every act is scrutinized. As punishment for her act of adultery, Hester is ordered to adorn her chest with a permanent scarlet letter. Although the audience is well aware of the atrocity of the sin she’s committed, Hawthorne’s writing sparks a feeling of empathy within the reader. Throughout the novel, the reader is exposed to several clear uses of pathos.
Dimmesdale knew that his choice to step back and allow Hester to bear all the punishment was not morally just, and that choice forever ate at him until he revealed his true self. As the guilt grew stronger, he grew sicker and weaker. He was so afraid to ruin his reputation that he would rather suffer in silence. Hawthorne states, “…all the dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life, had returned upon him; and he was already trembling at the conjunction in which- with a strange joy, nevertheless-he now found himself. ”(140).
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman, commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale. As a form of punishment, the judge forces Hester to wear a scarlet letter to signify her wrongdoing. The purpose of the scarlet letter is to correct Hester’s conduct. With the symbol of the scarlet letter, Hester’s Puritan community publicly judges and ridicules her. Today, judges sometimes still use public shaming as a form of punishment. For example, judges may order the offender to hold a sign describing the offense. Since the offender stands out in public, the community mocks and judges the offender. Judges should not use public shaming as a form of punishment towards an offender.
In this book, Hawthorne details an elaborate story showing the consequences of confessing sins in contrast to concealing it. A sin weighing down on you and destroying you from the inside out is a moral consequence and, the only remedy is confessing the sin. This notion can be seen in the difference between Hester and Dimmesdale with how they handled the scarlet letter and the effects of that. Hester had worn her scarlet letter out for the public to see from the very beginning. She the subject of a lot of the town’s scrutiny.
Hawthorne described three things in The Scarlet Letter. Sin, guilt, and redemption. Hawthorne uses people to symbolize them. Hester Prynne was one. Hawthorne allows the reader to get a better understanding by using biblical references.
To begin, Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes pathos throughout his writing to imprint the importance of individual conscience into the reader 's mind. Hawthorne begins the book by having the reader pity the main character, Hester Prynne, as she is a young, husbandless, mother in a society that shames her for her unfortunate circumstances: “haughty as her demeanor was, she perchance underwent an agony from every footstep of those that thronged to see her, as if her heart had been flung in the street for them all to spurn and trample upon” (Hawthorne, 53). The consistent misfortune of Prynne evokes emotion in the reader and stresses the weight of her decisions. Prynne manages her way through such a hostile society -“Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly on your bosom” (Hawthorne, 188)- in a way that is metaphorically applicable to the real world, allowing the reader to truly connect and understand the character for who they are.
Hawthorne is in relation to the Puritan society through his ancestors in addition to a long line of judges preceding him; whom were known for cruel sentencing during the salem witch trials. 20 or more witches were convicted of a crime under the judgement of Hawthorne's grandfather. Considering the correlation between the Puritans and Hawthorne himself- being more open minded- many see why he chose to separate himself with them. (The Scarlet Letter) Among all the Hawthorns were known for judging people and deciding their fate, similar to the Puritan people.
People in life go through many hardships and challenges, but it is in the way we handle those hardships in which our true character is shown. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, the author Nathaniel Hawthorne shows his audience many ways to people interpret hardships, and some people do not take them very well. For instance the Reverend Dimmesdale. Arthur Dimmesdale 's believes his actions of self-punishment and sin created a world in which he could no longer live a life of truth and holiness.
New Historicism Literary Analysis Essay Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was influenced heavily by the time era it was written in. To achieve a fuller understanding of the work as a whole it would be best to start by analyzing the time era in which it was written. There are many historical facets that can be explored to help determine some of the underlying meaning in The Scarlet Letter .
The Hidden Sin and The Revealed Sin As humans, we live in the that are brimming with sins and evil desire. As the creator of all the creatures, God, sent his only son to save the people from the control of devil. The only thing we have to do is to acknowledge our mistake. Bible teach us that we should tell the truth to God and your neighbors, and God will forgive you. But people are worse, they not only hide the sin and their evil behaviors but also try to deny it.
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne pinpoints various effects of sin on individuals within a strict, Puritan society. To shed a negative light on Puritan attitudes toward sin and lack of forgiveness, Hawthorne paints vivid pictures of freedom and imprisonment, relief and regret, through the juxtaposition of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, and the characterization of the two lovers. Hester undergoes major character growth through her years bearing the scarlet “A,” "so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom," introduced in the narrator’s shifting viewpoint of the young mother. The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale on the other hand, shoulders his guilt, in spite of the physical manifestation of his inner turmoil in his
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne explores recurring themes of suffering surrounding the main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale both commit adultery with each other, and, as a result of this, both experience gruesome and occasionally unbearable forms of suffering. Though they undergo different forms of pain, both of their experiences are highly reliant on how the Puritan society treats them. Hester 's pain stems from the shame and estrangement she receives from the community, while Dimmesdale’s is due to the reverence with which the community regards him. Although, in spite of the fact that both Hester and Dimmesdale receive harsh penalty for their sin, by the end of the book, Hawthorne shows how their suffering is, in fact, the key to their salvation.