Analysis of Norman Bryson´s Hawthrone´s Illegible Letter Essay

Analysis of Norman Bryson´s Hawthrone´s Illegible Letter Essay

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Literary fiction’s success and popularity can be designated to its capacity to comfort generations of readers conditioned to believe that uncertainty is synonymous to weakness. Stories that offer a sense of order, a substantial plot with an ending that allows closure, are commonly enjoyed for their stability. However, we see that the books that withhold relevance and constant observation decades after their creation typically offer audiences an experience completely unique from this assumed standard of literature. While this should normally be enough to deem a piece of writing, “classic,” some argue that if a novel’s purpose can be argued against, then perhaps the distinguished title should be more gingerly used. Norman Bryson, author of, “Hawthorne’s Illegible Letter,” critiques Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter by attacking the ambiguity of the story and the destruction of meaning he believes the vagueness creates. Bryson’s title in itself shrewdly criticizes the veil over legitimacy in Hawthorne’s piece by altering part of the original name. For a man with such clever word play, is it possible that even he fears the unknown at times? Although he doesn’t quite portray apprehension in his writing, it does seem as though he found solace in counter-acting previous judgments with much disregard for the possibility that the constant changes in the novel allow the reader infinite leg room for interpretation were written for a positive reason reason. Bryson’s claim that the overwhelming uncertainty of the fictional tale cloaks the novel’s supposed purpose is invalid for the likelihood that Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter to successfully portray his appreciation of the ambiguity that surrounded both the Puritan community and...


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...gible, understood image of a person known to embody a certain trait, Hawthorne’s vague description of his characters’ outward actions allow the reader to string together their own rope between the several inner and outer dimensions that in reality form an identity; alas, making indulging The Scarlet Letter a more active experience than it already is.
Bryson’s argument that Hawthorne’s ambiguity was destructive of meaning is countered by the possibility that demanding the reader’s presence to interpret a variety of themes in the novel was Hawthorne’s aim. Since ambiguity is a substantial part of humanity, whether it be modern day or Puritan Boston, an author can only try to tackle a concept that perpetual, yet constantly developing. The Scarlet Letter successfully dares to incorporate psychology into fiction, a barrier that had little been overcome before its time.

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