Main Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and The Minister's Black Veil

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Main Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and The Minister's Black Veil Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works often have parallel themes and similar characters. His approach is quite gloomy and the atmosphere for his stories is many times sad and depressing. Hawthorne concentrates his novel and short stories around the Puritan community, which adds to the tense and unforgiving atmosphere. One of his most renowned novels, The Scarlet Letter and his short story, The Minister’s Black Veil contain many of his typical elements and are many times referred synonymously. Although The Scarlet Letter and The Minister’s Black Veil share the common theme of alienation from society, the purpose behind the symbol both main characters are wearing is different. One of Hawthorne’s main themes in The Scarlet Letter is isolation from society. Hester, one of the main characters, illustrates this theme very well. Due to her illegitimate child and the scarlet ‘A’ she wears on her chest, Hester is not allowed to assimilate into society. Thus, she decided to reside in a cottage on the outskirts of town. One key reason that Hester is remote from society is because of herself. When the townspeople attempt to ask Hester a question, she merely points to the ‘A’ and does not respond. Hester’s decision not leave Boston is entirely her own as it says, “She reasoned upon her motive for continuing a resident of New England” (Hawthorne 77). This decision was not forced upon her; she chose to wear the scarlet letter and continue living in Boston. Even when there is talk that Hester, after seven years will be able to take off her mark of shame, Hester replies, “It lies not in the pleasure of the magistrates to take off this badge, were I worthy to be qui... ... middle of paper ... ...ter becomes upset as she remarks, “That was not kind! When thou hast shown me a little love, though mockest me!” (Hawthorne 208). The letter is a permanent sting of agony that Hester must endure as her punishment. Unlike Hester’s scarlet letter as a method of punishment, the black veil that Mr. Hooper wears is to teach his fellow Christians some lessons. He first wants to teach his community how judgmental humans are. Just by the change of his appearance, the town takes on a very different attitude towards Mr. Hooper. Mr. Hooper, before the wearing of his veil, was a very likeable man in his community. His speeches were often given praise and he was on very amiable terms with his neighbors and townspeople. After Mr. Hooper starts to wear his veil, people do not treat him the same way. Elizabeth, who was happily engaged to him, is undergoing some second thoughts.
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