Scarlet Letter: Radical Responses

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Radical Responses The human desire to fight for rights is unavoidable. History has proven that people will always fight against a societal practice they deem unjust as shown during the abolition and suffrage movements. Although Hawthorne opposed abolitionists and feminists because he believed they would cause too much conflict and violence, he acknowledged that slavery was wrong and realized these movements were unstoppable. Nathaniel Hawthorne addresses the consequences of radical change in his book, The Scarlet Letter, through the sin of Hester Prynne. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne defies the Puritan society’s harsh laws by committing adultery and later redeems herself by becoming a helpful member of Puritan society. Nathaniel Hawthorne…show more content…
Hawthorne describes slavery as, “one of those evils which divine Providence does not leave to be remedied by human contrivances.” Hawthorne believed slavery and the subordination of women was wrong and sympathized with those affected. Literary historians believe his sympathy for radicals fighting against social order developed from his unfair treatment in “The Custom House.” However, Hawthorne also believed abolitionists and feminists were too radical and that it was best to continue being subordinate to peacefully keep the natural structure of society. Hawthorne most feared, “violent descriptions of the social order.” Although Hawthorne admits slavery is wrong, he also claims that God does not want people to interfere with the natural ways of society and believes that these interferences will cause too much violence. Hawthorne considers The Scarlet Letter as a “moral parable.” It depicted the hypocrisy of the Puritan society and was written as a moral lesson for history not to repeat itself. The Puritan paradox was that the Puritans claimed to be united by God, yet ostracized people who sinned. The American paradox 0-=during the time of Hawthorne was how America claimed to be free, yet slaves and women were subordinate to wealthy, white men. The Scarlet Letter is full of ideas of, “passion, self-expression, freedom, and individualism. Hence, the novel also serves to empower his female, and quite likely, the abolitionist audience to non radically fight against the hypocrisy of America using these ideas. (“The Scarlet
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