Theme Of Appearance Vs Reality In The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is one of the most famous novels in history. Alongside Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and other similar stories, it is one of the most frequently studied novels. One of Hawthorne’s most prevalent themes is the issue of appearance vs reality. He explores this issue predominantly through his characterization, including the characterization of his heroine, Hester Prynne. Hester is the exception to the rule, and perhaps the only character in the novel who lives by reality, rather than appearance. Throughout the novel, Hester encounters a barrage of disrespect and cruelty. Her own people shun her because she falls in love and bears her child a lover. From the first page of the novel, Hester is exiled and shunned, and is thrown into reality. Thus, unlike the characters around her, such as the sneaky minister or the greedy lovers, Hester is the one character who lives by reality instead of appearance. The best example of this is her lifestyle before and after she is shunned. Before her exile, Hester recognizes the unjust nature of the laws around her. She refuses to follow them and present a façade of perfection and happiness. When Dimmesdale demands that she name her baby’s father and promises that her sentence will be lightened as a reward, Hester steadfastly refuses (Hawthorne, 1850). She recognizes Dimmesdale’s promise as an outright lie, and chooses to live by the reality that her punishment is set. She refuses to drag anyone

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