Essay on On The Scarlet Letter By Hester Prynne

Essay on On The Scarlet Letter By Hester Prynne

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A Cain Called Abel
D.H. Lawrence’s critical essay “On the Scarlet Letter” addresses a multitude of ideas and criticisms regarding Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. He investigates different aspects of both her characterization and her sin through his analytical essay. In doing so, he reveals Prynne’s abhorrent actions and wrongfully gained admiration through use of repetition, choppy syntax, and Biblical allusions.
Lawrence uses repetition to emphasize Hester's less-than-holy attributes. The most prominent example of this recurring diction is found in the words “seduction” and “purity”. Purity is something that can never be regained after its loss; it is something sacred and all too fleeting. Seduction, in contrast, is the willful desecration of this sacred element; a heinous act worthy of the highest punishment. These words appear together repeatedly in lines such as “ To seduce a man. To have everybody know. To keep up appearances of purity, Pure! ” and “... the triumph of seducing a man: especially if he is pure” (Lawrence). However, these lines contain a third element in Hester Prynne. As the seductress of the pure man, she is the criminal and yet becomes all the more admirable and respectable after-the-fact. This is a statement that Lawrence drives again and again through meticulous use of repetition. Everytime he repeats the word “purity” or “seduction’, he is bringing the focus back to Hester’s evil by the sheer gravity of the words. The word “purity” is so sacred and “seduction” so evil that the mind cannot help but notice them. Thus, when he repeats them, and relates them to Hester Prynne, he forcefully and effectively conveys his ideas on her abhorrent actions and nature.
Lawrence also us...


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...cence is, according to Lawrence, “ the most colossal satire ever penned”, for in playing the victim she mocks those who praise her and discredits the death of the pure reverend (Lawrence). It is the praise she receives despite her deception that Lawrence attacks. Hester is supposed to be Able the martyr, when in reality she is Cain the deceiver. This realization is one that is only brought about by the Biblical allusion, effectively adding evidence in favor of Lawrence's claims regarding Hester Prynne’s deception.
Lawrence successfully argues his claims on the actions and characterization of Hester Prynne through use of repetition, choppy syntax, and Biblical allusion.He delves deep into the facades she presents and the actions they hide. He meticulously picks apart Hester until there is nothing left but a husk of evil, deception, and seduction; Hawthorne’s heroine.

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