The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Powerful Essays
The seventh commandment of the Ten Commandments states “Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14).

Adultery, according to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband.” Some people may think that adultery is only an occurrence in the 21st century, but it also occurred frequently in the 1600s as well. For example, in The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a novel that was set in the 17th century tells the story of Hester Prynne who was convicted of adultery with a man named Reverend Dimmesdale. Even though adultery seems to be the most important theme throughout the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses other themes and literary topics to make his novel The Scarlet Letter, “his most popular work” (Winship).

Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays many literary elements throughout the novel to fully develop and detail his thoughts to help the reader have a better understanding of the novel. Although adultery is one of the main themes, many other themes such a guilt and blame, identities, and suggestive names, also appear in the novel. The Scarlet Letter is an example of an allegorical tale in which a lot of symbolism is used. Symbolism and theme are not the only literary elements that come up in the novel. Point of view is also a crucial element. Point of view helps the reader further understand and comprehend the story. The tone in which the story is told helps the reader have a handle on what is going on in the story as well. Nathaniel Hawthorne explains the characters in a very detailed manner, but then stirs up an event that somehow contrasts with that certain character. As he doe...

... middle of paper ...

...ks Cited

• Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003. Print.

• The New English Bible; New Testament.. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961. Print.

• Winship, Michael. "Hawthorne and the 'Scribbling Women': publishing The Scarlet Letter in the nineteenth-century United States." Studies in American Fiction 29.1 (2001): 3+. Academic OneFile. Web. 13 May 2011.

• Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and Kathryn Harrison. "Introduction." The Scarlet Letter . 2000 Modern Library pbk. ed. New York: Modern Library, 2000. xi-xvi. Print.

• Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and W.D. Howells. "Commentary." The Scarlet Letter. 2000 Modern Library pbk. ed. New York: Modern Library, 2000. 261-268. Print.

• Bloom, Harold. "Biographical Sketch." Nathaniel Hawthorne's The scarlet letter . New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1996. 11-14. Print.
Get Access