Theme Of Morality In The Scarlet Letter

1035 Words5 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s romance, The Scarlet Letter, is set in Puritanical seventeenth-century Boston, Massachusetts. Detailing the life of Hester Prynne, a young woman who has an adulterous affair with the town minister, the novel addresses many aspects of Puritan expectations. The Puritans, known for their strict adherence to religious dogma, deem Hester a sinner and force her to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest, with the intent of displaying her passionate affair. Puritan ideology is simple: anything other than wholehearted devotion to God through piety and modesty is sinful. Hence, committing adultery is a grave sin, because it demonstrates one’s passion to a figure other than God. Despite the novel’s emphasis on Puritan values, as the novel develops, the narrator actually provides ambiguous interpretations of multiple events, essentially contrasting the rigidity exercised by the Puritans. Hawthorne’s never-definitive narrations contribute to the reader’s uncertainty regarding morality as defined by Puritan society, ultimately suggesting that morality and sin cannot be defined nor portrayed solely through strict laws. His varying depictions of important symbols and characters reveals the multiple nuances underlying moral righteousness. Although Hawthorne introduces the scarlet letter to the reader at the outset of the novel, he never reveals its actual signification, leaving the reader unsure about what it is actually supposed to represent. Instead, he presents multiple
Open Document