Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Length: 1141 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a novel filled with many symbolic references that reflect not only the issues/concerns of the Puritan era but also of similar issues of his own time period, which Hawthorne reveals his personal opinions on. One example of said issues evident in his work is the Puritan society’s view/treatment of women, which he appears to express contempt for through the use of his character Hester Prynne. However, even though Hawthorne appears to not be in favor of how the Puritan government perceives/deals with women, he also doesn’t seem to be willing to allow the equally involved patriarchal system to be challenged or abolished since it works in a man’s favor and at times he even concurs with society in terms of how he believes women should act and what roles they are expected to fill.
Hawthorne explicates how this society portrays/treats women by setting up his main protagonist Hester Prynne against society by her sin of adultery. For adultery is a serious offense in an era where religion and law are interchangeable and is a crime judged more harshly on women because society dictates that women be held to a higher moral standard than men. This double standard for men and women is evident in how the women regard Hester for her crime, as one of the wives standing about the prison door expresses “Good wives … What think ye … If the hussy [Hester] stood up for judgment before us five … [W]ould she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trow not!” (478,479). This clearly portrays the disdain the people (and especially the women) have for Hester due to her actions and the anger they feel at the law (the magistrates) for not following the traditional Puritan tri...


... middle of paper ...


...e represents in Hester when she contemplates acting on her feministic thoughts but realizes that it is “… [A] hopeless task before her” (541). Similarly, he maintains this negativity and somewhat stereotypical view of women not being able to bring about change by Hester recognizing that although “Earlier in life … [She] had vainly imagined that she herself might be the destined prophetess … [She now] recognized the impossibility that any mission of divine and mysterious truth should be confided to a woman stained with sin …” (593).
In conclusion, Hawthorne obviously has a lack of respect/tolerance for the Puritan theocratic world and its methods of treating/viewing woman, but he also expresses a lack of support for reforming the patriarchal system that leaves women at a disadvantage in society and even shares in some of the stereotypical views society has of women.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne of Salem, Massachusetts was a descendant of a distant line of Puritan ancestors; however, his antecedent family history was not one he was proud of, as he persisted to be bedeviled with guilt, most notably from the renown John Hathorne of the Salem witch trials. He, as a consequence, wrote The Scarlet Letter to articulate his message on the extreme and austere type of Puritan legalism, society’s outlook of an adultery child, the individual reconciliation of a sinful act in the Puritan society, and, all from the perspective of Hester Prynne....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In the novel the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character Hester Prynne sinned by committing adultery which changes her identity while she wears the Scarlet Letter. “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity” (Erik Erikson). The way the scarlet letter defines Hester as someone who sinned in her society. The way that her society reacted to her with the scarlet letter, made her question her identity of who she is with the scarlet letter....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- When the fate of the scarlet letter encompasses the beholder, it transforms their souls into the symbolic image of Yin VS. Yang. A common Chinese symbol that displays good vs. evil. As the essence of good (Yang) exists through charitable acts, and those who live life with an open heart. Whereas, the power, and the darker side of the light (Yin) comes through as being hidden from society, and relating symbols in life to the underworld. Two opposite sides of the spectrum clashing against one another to coincide....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1437 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Pranav Damera Mr. Mackechnie English Period 6 9 May 2015 “A” in the Scarlet Letter According to Webster Dictionary, adultery is sex between a married person and someone who is not that person 's wife or husband. Even though this is still considered immoral nowadays, it is not dealt with as harshly by countries today as the Puritans. The scarlet letter “A” in the Scarlet Letter has many different meanings throughout the book. The “A” serves as a symbol throughout and helps show the suffering and strength of Hester Prynne as a character....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1618 words (4.6 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essays

- Throughout the course of history, the concept of women being subordinate to men has always existed. However, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a woman named Hester Prynne tries to break prejudicial notions against women in a patriarchal society. In the story, Hester commits the crime of adultery and is sentenced by the government to wear a scarlet letter as it symbolizes ignominy. Since she lives in Puritan New England, the people do not value women a lot, her actions becomes a sight of public scrutiny....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
2438 words (7 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- The Scarlet Letter As written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Be true. Be true. Be true!” (Hawthorne, 254). In a world full of corruption and deceit, the light of truth always finds a way to shine through, even in the darkest of places. It may be argued that forests and prisons, cloaked with gloomy ambience, are unlikely places to find this ray of honesty. However, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the author reinforces the rawness of truth and forgiveness, the destructiveness of secrets and revenge, and the evolving symbolism of light by the use of contrasting settings presented by the forest and prison....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1855 words (5.3 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, adversity hinders Hester Prynne in her lust for prosperity. Hester struggles to accept her doomed fate brought on by the adultery she committed a few years back. Constantly reminded by the scarlet ‘A’ embroidered on her chest and her little Pearl, Hester struggles to break free and move on from her past. Society’s prevalent judgment, Hester’s strength, and her personal relationships keep her in the center of her sin in Massachusetts as she toils with her guilt and the secret of who father’s little Pearl....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
999 words (2.9 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Other F-Word: Feminism in The Scarlet Letter The concept of feminism is defined as “political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster). Contrary to prior belief, it is not raising women above men. This was a fear held by many men in the nineteenth century. Therefore, Hawthorne was restricted in how he made the characters of The Scarlet Letter powerful within the society by what society feared. Throughout the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to write a novel that is ahead of its time by showing feminist tendencies through Hester, however the constraints of his society and that of Puritan society force his writing to portray women in a negative light....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
990 words (2.8 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Near the great Atlantic, in the early Puritan settlement of Boston, heinous sins, those of adultery and hypocrisy, threaten the Puritans holy way of life. Secrets, lies, and deceptions cloud the air in this 17th century town, and once unraveled, lead three once pure hearts into destruction. A simple, scarlet letter “A” comes to represent the errors of these characters, and the corruption of their once unadulterated souls. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne presents the theme that even well-meaning secrets and deceptions can lead to destruction....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1640 words (4.7 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- For many people, a sin of significant magnitude is a burden that may live with them for the rest of their lives. The effects of this sin can manifest in many ways, be it mentally, physically, or spiritually. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth are all living with an enormous burden of sin, each reflecting their inner torture caused by this sin differently. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne conveys the effects of sin on each character through Hester’s ostracism from society, both physically and emotionally due to her sin of adultery, through Dimmesdale’s sickness and self- inflicted suffering due to his sin of hypocrisy, and through Chillingworth’s transformatio...   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1155 words (3.3 pages)