Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter tells the story of the life of Hester Prynne an adulteress forced to wear a Scarlet “A” on her bosom by the sinister Puritan society to mark her shame. As her husband seeks revenge for the unidentified lover, Arthur Dimmesdale stays wracked with guilt. The Scarlet Letters symbolism and use of allusions, metaphors, setting, irony, diction, and varied tone helps to unwrap the characters throughout the novel. Hawthornes motives for writing the The Scarlet Letter was to show how women can be equally as strong and independent as men as men can also be morally weak. Hawthorne uses his abilities to weave tone, mood, and style all into one story questioning his purpose of this tragic tale of shame and redemption.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Pearl Prynne is the most symbolic character. Throughout the novel, she is portrayed as the main symbol of adultery. Pearl’s name comes from Hester’s constant reminder of her sin and “as being of great price,-purchased with all she had,-her mother’s only treasure!” (Hawthorne). Hester was seen as an outcast by her community.
We are all sinners, no matter how hard we try to hide our faults, they always seem to come back, one way or another. Written in the 19th century, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us Hester Prynne and how one sin can change her life completely. Hester Prynne changes a great deal throughout The Scarlet Letter. Through the view of the Puritans, Hester is an intense sinner; she has gone against the Puritan way of life committing the highest act of sin, adultery. For committing such a sinful act, Hester must wear the scarlet letter while also having to bear stares from those that gossip about her.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s brilliant novel, The Scarlet Letter uses hypocrisy to illustrate the corruption within the Puritan religion. Hawthorne’s novel specifically illustrates the injustices of the Puritan religion before, and after The Salem Witch trials of 1692. Most of Hawthorne’s characters did something hypocritical to further develop their character and emotions. Hawthorne uses real historical people to prove his points; including Hester Prynne, Reverend Dimmesdale, and Doctor Chillingworth. All of these characters have either been a victim of hypocrisy or have been exposed by hypocrisy by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
All characters in the crucible are puritans, which means that they are religious and they often attributed frightening occurrences to devil’s work, but Miss Putnam is the most pious puritan in this book. When Betty blacked out, Mrs. Putnam simply concludes that Betty is bewitched and cannot hear Lord’s name without pain, while Rebecca Nurse thinks that it is a normal disease that a child gets. Mrs. Putnam’s seven babies all died without any apparent reason. Convinced that someone used witchcraft to kill her babies, Mrs. Putnam sent Ruth to Tituba to contact the sprits of her dead children to find out who killed her babies. She doesn’t mean to harm anybody; she just wants to find out the reason why her babies have been dying.
In The Scarlett Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne creates Hester Prynne, who is affected by the sin resulting in a psychological novel. Hester’s sin of adultery affects her. The Boston community abhors Hester, including the young children who throw mud and rocks towards her. In
In The Scarlet Letter, The scarlet letter at first was a symbol of her sin of adultery, but as time went on it became a symbol of her being able and being like an angel. The scarlet letter to the Puritan people was a symbol of disgrace and dishonor, until they saw the good works Herster was doing. Hester saw the letter as something that she had done, but the letter became part of her. The scarlet letter affected how Hester’s raised Pearl and who Pearl is as a person. The scarlet letter caused many changes in the lives of the people who saw it and to Hester, the one that wore it.
“Again, as if her mother’s agonized gesture were meant only to make sport for her, did little Pearl look into her eyes, and smile!” (p 82). Pearl herself being the product of sin, is a constant reminder to her mother that the scarlet letter cannot be neglected. Hawthorne shows this symbolism various times throughout the story. In Chapter two, during the first scaffold scene when Hester tries to hide away her scarlet letter with Pearl, Hawthorne indicates how useless that would be, considering that Pearl is the personification of her sin.
Hawthorne demonstrates the effects of sin on the lives and reputations of Hester, Dimmesdale, Pearl, and Chillingworth. Although many might argue, especially given the Puritan setting of the novel, that public confrontation of sin tarnishes a person’s reputation, Hawthorne’s recurring motif of sin serves to make a broader point about the dangers of repressing sin. The Scarlet Letter suggests that the acknowledgement of sin as an innate aspect of humanity ultimately fosters personal growth. Mentions of sin recur frequently throughout Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
The process of growing in a character can be treacherous process. This process was demonstrated well by Reverend Dimmesdale in the novel, The Scarlett Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s style sets up Dimmesdale demise impeccably, giving the reader a deep and insightful look at Dimmesdale. Hawthorne explains the destruction of Dimmesdale, which is due to committing adultery with Hester, with his continued exacerbating health and the letter A throughout the novel. Hawthorne continuously comments about Reverend Dimmesdale’s ailing health, leading the reader to assume that the sin is eating him up from inside.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is heavily centered on showing diverse ways the Puritan people could face guilt and sin. As the plot develops, the four main characters: Hester Prynne, Pearl, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingsworth, all reach individual climaxes by dealing with the effects of guilt and sin differently. Hester confronts the guilt of adultery head on by flagrantly wearing a scarlet letter on her chest, Pearl deals with guilt and sin by being a living symbol of Hester’s egregious offense, Arthur Dimmesdale confronts the guilt of sin privately which leads to mental instability, and Roger Chillingsworth faces guilt and sin by being consumed by the darkness it causes. There are several climaxes in The Scarlet Letter due to the main characters facing the central conflict, the effects of guilt and sin, in various ways.