Essay on The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

Essay on The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

Length: 2187 words (6.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

The Scarlet Letter is a modern classic of American literature written about controversy and published with controversy. The main topic of the book, adultery, is written in a dark and sad way, as Hawthorne describes injustice, fate or predetermination and conscience ( Van Doren, 1998) . No other American novel of the time has such a controversial theme as Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. The setting of Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is the seventeenth century Puritan New England. But Hawthorne's writing for this book is heavily influenced by his own nineteenth century culture. Hawthorne strongly believed in Providence. Hawthorne was descended from the Puritan traditions, growing up in Salem, Massachusetts. One of his relatives, Judge Hawthorne, was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials. But Hawthorne was very critical of the Puritan ethic and demonstrated that through this book (Bloom, 1986). Hawthorne believed that anyone trying to interfere with natural law was trying to interfere with Providence . Hawthorne also believed than man was not wise enough to do God's work . (Colacurcio, 1985). According to Craven (1959), the idea of America as a New World and Americans as a new species of man came from the thinking that America was a sacred nation with a divine purpose. The journey back to the very beginning of the New World sets the stage for a journey back to purity - away from the sins of the current day. Hawthorne's focus in the book on the Puritan ethic of the times, the effects of sins and the use of the supernatural all contribute to the many aspects of the novel and Hawthorne's story and message.
Hawthorne used the Puritan ethic as his basis for r...


... middle of paper ...


...characters makes The Scarlet Letter the classic American novel it remains today.

References

Azuze, Ismaznizam J. ,( 2007). Conservative and Antirevolutionary Ideology in the Scarlet Letter: A New Historicist Analysis. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, Volume 7(1) 2007.

Bloom, Harold, (1986). Modern Critical Interpretations of Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.

Colacurcio, Michael., Ed. (1985). New Essays on the Scarlet Letter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gross, Seymour, ( 1988). The Scarlet Letter. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Martin, Terence. ( 1983). Nathanial Hawthorne. Boston: Twayne Publishers.

Reynolds, David. ( 1990). Hester Prynne. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.

Van Doren, Mark, (1998). The Scarlet Letter Literary Companion, San Diego: Greenhaven Press.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Romanticism, Reason, and Puritanism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- Romanticism, Reason, and Puritanism in The Scarlet Letter The novel, The Scarlet Letter, is about the struggle three people face while trying to live their lives and find happiness in a Puritan society. In the early 1640s, Hester has come to the small town of Boston, Massachusetts, from Great Britain, while her husband, Chillingworth, ties up all of the loose ends back in Great Britain. Hester and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, the town's priest, engage in the act of adultery and produce a baby girl named Pearl; though, only Hester knows that Dimmesdale is the father....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Powerful Essays
1702 words (4.9 pages)

The Transformation of Hester in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- The Transformation of Hester in The Scarlet Letter The Puritans came from England in the sixteen hundreds to break free from the laws and regulations made by the king of England. In the new world, they were able to practice their own form of religion. The Puritans believed in God and His laws. "A Young Puritan's Code" was "Being sensible, that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ sake." (Jonathan Edwards) And they had over fourteen resolutions to keep....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
943 words (2.7 pages)

Symbols and Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is generally considered to be the first American symbolic novel. A symbol is something which is used to represent something broader in meaning. The most obvious symbol in the novel is the actual scarlet "A" which both the criticism and I agree upon. This "A" is the literal symbol of the sin of adultery. The letter A then appears in many different forms throughout the novel. The gold-embroidered A on Hester Prynne's fascinates Pearl Prynne....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Powerful Essays
942 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Symbols in The Scarlet Letter

-      Symbols unlock the secrets of a story. Hawthorne, in The Scarlet Letter, uses many symbols to represent different things. Some symbols represent the same thing. The letter “A” has many meanings, each character has their own meanings, and even the different parts of nature are symbols. Also, apart from providing structure for the novel, each scaffold scene conveys something different. One could say, arguably, that nearly everything in The Scarlet Letter is a symbol for something else.      In the novel, there are four different versions of the letter “A”....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne Essays]

Powerful Essays
1811 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on Powerful Symbols and Symbolism of The Scarlet Letter

- The Powerful Symbol of the Scarlet Letter       In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne's scarlet token liberates her more than it punishes her.  First of all, Hester's soul is freed by her admission of her crime; by enduring her earthly punishment, Hester is assured of a place in the heavens.  Also, though her appearance is much hampered by the scarlet letter, her mind is freed by it, that an intellectual passion rises from her isolation and suffering.  Finally, it defines her identity, for the letter makes Hester the woman that she is; it gives her roots, character, and a uniqueness to her being that sets her apart from the other Puritans.  The...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
1430 words (4.1 pages)

Essay about Sinfulness of the Puritans in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

- Sinfulness of the Puritans in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne brings to The Scarlet Letter a notion of sin and guilt that seems to stem from his experience and knowledge of Puritan theology and religious practice. In "The Custom House" Hawthorne communicates his apprehension for the persecutory impulses of his ancestors who "have mingled their earthly substance with the soil, until no small portion of it must necessarily be akin to the moral frame wherewith, for a little while, I walk the streets" (1309)....   [tags: Scarlet Letter Essays]

Powerful Essays
2042 words (5.8 pages)

Change in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Change in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter In life, one may see that there are not many guarantees. However, the closest one may come to a guarantee is that almost anything in life can change. I believe that change can come in many forms....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Scarlet Letter]

Free Essays
1566 words (4.5 pages)

Free Scarlet Letter Essays: Puritanistic Elements

- Puritanistic Elements in The Scarlet Letter   Puritanism was the religion practiced by the people of colonial Boston, the setting for Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  It is because of the beliefs of the Puritan religion that Hester Prynne, the main character in The Scarlet Letter, is ostracized from the community.  Puritan ideals are often brought up in the book.  Although Hawthorne never outrightly states his position on Puritanism, it seems clear that he does approve of the religion. The story begins with Hester in jail for adultery.  She is presented as a strong woman—she holds her head high and does not try to cover up the letter.  She stands up to her punishment, and neither the spe...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Powerful Essays
511 words (1.5 pages)

Chillingworth as Hero of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter? Essay

- Chillingworth as Hero of The Scarlet Letter. The Scarlet Letter is a story about human reaction to circumstances and the justification behind these actions. Each of the central characters in the novel represents a side of an extremely serious situation, adultery. Each of the characters has a certain amount of justification behind their actions and each searches for a way to rise out of his/her condition. Roger Chillingworth himself represents revenge. Some even believe him to be representative of evil or Satan....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Powerful Essays
1103 words (3.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, Young Goodman Brown and Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter, Young Goodman Brown and Hawthorne Writing under the influence of his Puritan background, Hawthorne's attention was on individuals and their relationships within their community. Theocratic Puritans punished sinners as deviants of society and used the punishments to restate the boundaries within the group. The five tenets of Puritanism reveal the curious nature of a religion that promoted goodness as a constant goal of each individual, but provided only negative reward of no punishment for good behavior and actions....   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Free Essays
1161 words (3.3 pages)