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Passion in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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“Love and hate are two sides of the same coin” (anonymous). While these emotions are thought of as positive and negative respectively, they are really just different forms of passion. Passion drives everyone to make decisions in their life, and love and hate are the most common forms of passion. Everyone experiences love and hate and is prisoner to the reactions that these elicit from them. Emotions simply happen, and while they can be hidden or covered up, they cannot be consciously changed by the victim. People cannot control the emotions they feel, but they often choose to work towards intensifying their hate or love once they know they are experiencing it. Although these emotions are encountered by everyone at one point or another, they are misunderstood by society and usually accepted as opposites. Though love and hate are often thought of as antonyms, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in his novel The Scarlet Letter, examines how they are fundamentally the same because of their intimacy and the power with which they shape people and society.
In the same way as love, hatred requires a certain intimacy between two people. A relationship cannot consist of either love or hate without there first being a close relationship between two individuals. Hawthorne explains that for these emotions to exist, “each, in its utmost development, requires a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge” (Hawthorne 246). In order for either of these emotions to be conceived within an individual, the person must first make an effort to acquire a deep understanding of the other person. It is necessary to have a familiarity with someone else’s character in order to either love or hate them, and it is impossible to become close to som...

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...both just opposing variations of passion. Like opposite sides of the same coin, love and hate have their differences, but they are fundamentally the same. The real question in every relationship is what side the coin will land on.

Works Cited

Easton, Alison. “A Critique of Puritan Society.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel
Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers,
1986. 114-126

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet Classics Edition. New York: New American Library,
1999.

Thrailkill, Jane F. “The Doctor and the Minister.” From Studies in American Fiction 34, no. 1 (Spring
2006); n.p. Quoted as “The Doctor and the Minister” in Bloom, Harold, ed. The Scarlet Letter,
New Edition, Bloom’s Guides. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2010. Bloom’s Literary
Reference Online, Facts On File, Inc
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