Scarlet Letter: A Utopian Society

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The concept of a utopian society varies from each person’s perspective. A common belief is that a society should be one of complete safety, happiness, and virtue. However, the Puritan community believed that in their society, religion should influence their political system, setting rules to create an agreement with God and to live without sin. Puritan’s piety towards God caused them to follow strict societal rules, and anyone who would commit acts of sin, would be severely punished and humiliated. As mentioned in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Puritans deeply frown upon the adulterous actions committed by Hester Prynne, and they punish her by forcing her to wear a letter “A” on her chest, visibly marking her crime forever. Hawthorne…show more content…
Standing with her child in her arms and the scarlet letter upon her chest, Hester rises before the townspeople, engulfed by remorse and guilt. While Hester shamefully stands upon the scaffold, the observing crowd ridicules her with murmurs and sharp stares: Had a roar of laughter burst from the multitude--each man, each woman, each little shrill-voiced child, contributing their individual parts--Hester Prynne might have repaid them all with a bitter and disdainful smile. But, under the leaden infliction which it was her doom to endure, she felt, at moments, as if she must needs shriek out with the full power of her lungs, and cast herself from the down upon the ground, or else go mad at once. (Hawthorne 49)
The author uses imagery to depict Hester’s depressing life, the punishments she has to face, and the rejection she feels from society. The imagery allows readers to sympathize with the pain and dejection Hester feels. When the crowd is laughing at her and scorning her actions, Hester’s guilt and shame builds her mortification, while undermining her mentality. The depiction of the crowd’s roaring laughter shows how scornful and unsympathetic the town is towards Hester, causing her to be emotionally destroyed. By describing how the town publicly shames Hester, Hawthorne is able to convey the agony and guilt Hester experiences
…show more content…
Because of her crime against the Puritan society, Hester bears a scarlet “A” upon her bosom to eternally mark her with shame and agony. Hawthorne utilizes the scarlet letter as a sign of shame by stating, “In all the seven bygone years, Hester Prynne had never before been false to the symbol on her bosom. It may be that it was the talisman of a stern and severe, but yet a guardian spirit...” (149). The letter “A” is a sign of shame and allows all to identify as a evildoer; additionally, it identifies her acts of adultery and labels her as an outcast, burdening her conscience with loneliness and misery. However, throughout the novel, Hawthorne shows that the letter can also be a motivational sign that she is capable of redemption, as she performs charitable actions, which later causes the townspeople to interpret the “A” for able instead of adulterer. For Hester, the scarlet letter is a symbol of power, representing all the challenges she went through to define herself and her strength. While at first the scarlet letter was an emblem of weakness for Hester, she soon recognizes it as reminder of who she is and the capacity she has for
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