Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In the seventeenth century, the Puritans left England to practice their own Protestant version of Christianity. The Catholic church tried to control what they worshipped, and they ended up rebelling. Eventually, these same settlers created a group within their own society that was being treated similarly to the way the Puritans were in England; these people were punished in the Salem witch trials with an attempt from society to control a group of people. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan ancestors were involved in these trials. He connected this history for his romantic novel The Scarlet Letter, the tale of a woman being punished for engaging in the act of adultery and is forced to live with a life long punishment of ignominy by wearing a scarlet letter. When society attempts to control groups of people, they usually do not conform; actions of nonconformity end up producing negative results. Within the novel, Hawthorne reinforces this idea through Hester’s actions while in possession of the scarlet letter, Dimmesdale’s actions, and Pearl’s disobedience.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan community tries to control Hester with the emblem of her sin; she conforms externally, but she continues to rebel against society because they ultimately cannot control her thoughts. Hester’s act of adultery put her into an endless environment of negativity; the Puritans cannot control her thoughts or actions, but they can try to punish her for them. The letter she has to wear is embroidered extravagantly, and some Puritan women make negative comments while she is exiting the prison door. “If the hussy stood up for judgement before us five...would she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates would have awarded? Marry, I tr...


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...ng off the letter, in Pearl’s eyes, was casting her off of her mother; she does not know that this gives her mother a sense of freedom fore she thinks her mother does not want her anymore.
If everyone had conformed at first to the entire community, no one would have struggled with their own guilt or concealing the secrets of others. Hester is forced with pressure from her husband, Roger Chillingworth, to keep his identity unknown to everyone; Dimmesdale does not ask her to do this, but she also keeps her lover’s identity unknown to the community as well. Once the individuals comply with society they finally are at peace with themselves. Society and their faith has engrained into their minds that they must be honest with themselves, others, and God. Individuals of the town end up conforming, thus proving that nonconformity produces unfavorable and damaging results.

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