Social Status In The Scarlet Letter

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Throughout history, social status plays a significant role in the way people are treated. The Scarlet Letter is a novel with a clear distinction between the lives of those who are in the upper class and those in the lower class. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ancestors were firm believers in Puritanism. Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter to portray the one-sided ideology of societies that allow socioeconomic status to determine how people are treated, and as a call for change to diminish this unfair treatment. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the disparity between the treatment of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in order to establish that it is unjust to treat people differently simply due to their social status and that…show more content…
In the beginning of the novel, when Hester Prynne stands on an scaffold as a retribution to her crime, Hawthorne creates three levels of social status: the upper-class with the well educated and the people who are associated with church, the lower class including the majority of townspeople, and the outcasts who have committed sins. Initially, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are placed in the upper class, the townspeople in the lower class, and Hester in the outcast status. However, the characters’ designation to each status is dynamic throughout the novel. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that both Chillingworth and Dimmesdale have committed sins, displaying that although they do have a high status, it does not mean that they are better than the townspeople or Hester. Due to his high-ranking title in society, Dimmesdale feels to ashamed to confess his sin which leads him to inflict harm upon himself. However, at Dimmesdale’s deathbed, when he finally confesses, he realizes that his “death [is] of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever!” (Hawthorne 383). Dimmesdale finally feels the freedom when he steps down to Hester’s level and onto the scaffold. By lowering his belief if his status, Dimmesdale is able to
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