Romanticism And Puritanism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Romanticism and Puritanism collide in Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter, as Hawthorne’s characters are dealt with a conflict between following one’s own moral code versus following the code of a pious and conservative society. Hawthorne introduces characters who are in a struggle to rebel against a stubborn society. Throughout his novel, Hawthorne allegorizes a Romantic moral that expressing one’s true beliefs and emotions is ultimately rewarding. Across their progression, the characters Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth embody such Romantic moral.
Introduced as the novel’s protagonist, Hester Prynne is faced with the dilemma of finding and expressing her true identity in the face of a strict Puritan society.
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Dimmesdale’s death, in the appearance and demeanour of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth. All his strength and energy—all his vital and intellectual force—seemed at once to desert him, insomuch that he positively withered up, shrivelled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in the sun” (176). Due to all the negative energy Chillingworth has released throughout him seeking revenge, and because his only victim has escaped from his brutality, Chillingworth is left with nothing. With no other target, his only option is to die with nothing accomplished. By being a vengeful person his entire life, he can never fully satiate his desires, if victims, such as Dimmesdale, find ways to escape Chillingworth’s wickedness. Such unsatiated desire will inevitably leave Chillingworth discontent with life. Unlike Hester and Dimmesdale, who have both obtained rewards for expressing their true beliefs and emotions, Chillingworth is in a worse situation than where he started.
As Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth are presented to the reader, Nathaniel Hawthorne is able to highlight a central struggle in following one’s own moral code in the face of a stubborn Puritan society. As a Romanticist, Hawthorne emphasizes the virtues of refusing to conform and exercising one’s free will. It is Hawthorne’s contention that self-expression of one’s true beliefs and emotions is ultimately
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