Essay on The Scarlet Letter

Essay on The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter Introduction The Scarlet Letter is a classic tale of sin, punishment, and revenge. It was written in 1850 by the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It documents the lives of three tragic characters, each of whom suffer greatly because of his or her sins. Shot Plot The story begins with Hester Prynne, a resident of a small Puritan community, being led from the town jailhouse to a public scaffold where she must stand for three hours as punishment for adultery. She must also wear a scarlet A on her dress for the rest of her life as part of her punishment. As she is led to the scaffold, many of the women in the crowd complain that her sentence is too lenient and some even suggest she should be executed. We learn from the narrator that Hester arrived at the colony nearly two years earlier. She had been sent there ahead of her husband, while he remained in Amsterdam to finish up some business. Hester never heard heard from him again, and it was assumed that he had died at sea. Because of this, and the fact that Hester was very beautiful, and thus must have suffered great temptation, the judges decided to be lenient on her sentence. As Hester is standing on the platform with her illegitimate child, Pearl, in her arms, she sees her long lost husband in the crowd. Her husband, now known as Chillingworth, asks one of the townspeople why she is up there on the scaffold. The townsperson tells him of Hester's adultery and that the identity of her lover is unknown. Chillingworth vows that he will someday find out the unknown lover's identity. After Hester is returned to the prison, she is found to be in a state of nervous frenzy. Th...


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...hroughout the book, even in the dialog. Each word is carefully chosen for precise meaning. Hawthorne avoids using any ungrammatical or colloquial expressions. The Scarlet Letter is of the romantic genre. This is shown by Hawthorne's selective use of symbols to perpetuate the desired ideas and emotions. One example of this is the scarlet A that appears in the sky. This is not something that would realistically happen, but has been included to add meaning to the events that had transpired. Another element of Hawthorne's style is his combing of historical characters with fictional characters. Many of the characters he uses in the book were actual people that lived during that time period. These include Governor Winthrop, Governor Bellingham, and Reverend Mr. Wilson. He also makes references to several other historical figures including Anne Hutchenson and John Eliot. 

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