Revolutions In The Scarlet Letter Analysis

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In his piece, The Scarlet Letter and Revolutions Abroad, Larry J. Reynolds aims to link Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, to historical revolutions both past and present. He explains that one can draw parallels between the story and revolutions by examining the structure, themes, setting, language, as well as characterization within the story. As to why these parallels are present, Reynolds doesn’t give much explanation but justifies his claim by saying the revolutions and disrupts abroad were constantly on Hawthorne’s mind. Reynold’s begins the piece explaining why revolution had been absent in most American literature of the day. Despite the first couple pages not seeming relevant, at least to me, Reynolds does plant his first idea…show more content…
He explains that the scaffold that Hester is sentenced to stand upon as punishment is meant to be a comparison to the famous weapon in the French Revolution, the guillotine. Reynolds points out that it was custom in Puritan New England to refer to such places as to where Hester stood as the gallows, not scaffolds. “[…] the central setting of the novel, the scaffold, is, I believe, an historical inaccuracy intentionally used by Hawthorne to develop the theme of revolution” (619). Here he is saying that Hawthorne purposely misused the term in order to spur up themes of revolution. Although he fails to mention Hawthorne’s motive in doing so, it does credibly show the reader that there are possible and deliberate connections made between the French Revolution and The Scarlet…show more content…
He proposes that the author appears unsympathetic toward characters like Hester or Dimmesdale when they embody the ideals of a revolution. He backs this up by explaining that ideas of revolution, bloodshed and everything else it accompanies, was repulsive to Hawthorne, and likewise the author of the Custom House. He calls to light important examples of when the Custom House author portrayed a character in a negative light, in accompany with a situation where that character was seen to be emulating certain revolutionary ideals. Reynolds directly states, “Specifically, when Hester and Arthur battle to maintain or regain their rightful place in the social or spiritual order the narrator sympathizes with them; when they become revolutionary instead and attempt to overthrow an establish order, he becomes unsympathetic” (625). He makes this claim in connection with the above mentioned scaffold. This revolutionary device is something that is meant to degrade and humiliate Hester, but instead, given the author’s negative feelings towards these revolutionary ideals, he uses it as a physical and metaphorical way to elevate Hester. The connection is further validated by the background knowledge Reynolds provides. Not just in this example, but throughout the piece, Reynolds gives the reader an insight into how Hawthorne was influenced by these ideals. He mentions how

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