The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a gothic romance novel. The premise of the story is based on Hester Prynne, a young woman whose husband sent her to America and promised to meet her there later. However, he never arrived and was assumed to be dead. Hester has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale the pastor of the Puritan church, resulting in the birth of her child Pearl. The town learns the news of the affair and wonders who the father may be. Because Hester refuses to reveal the fathers identity and consider an adulterer, she is branded and forced to forever wear the scarlet letter “A” on her chest. The story takes a twist when Hester’s former husband Chillingsworth returns to New England and becomes obsessed with getting revenge towards Hester’s nameless partner in sin. The story’s foundation is based on the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Hawthorne allows the Scarlet Letter to be a backdrop, illuminating the truth of each character which each character is a symbolic representation of one type of sin. Overall the novel is illustrates the consequences of one sinful act in a Puritan community.
The story takes place during the 17th century, then a Puritan settlement. Puritans were a sect of Protestant Christians influenced by Calvinism, the idea that salvation is predestined. Hester was shunned by the Puritans. She was deemed an outcast and a sinner by the people of the Puritan colony of Boston, because she committed adultery. Puritans were overly strict and had a lack of compassion. Hawthorne in the first chapter describes the town as “the black flower of civilized society” (Hawthorne 45). He uses a flower, to symbolize the despair of the prison town. The us...
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...earl’s tears] were the pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow.” Pearl stands out as a radiant child implicated in the sin between her parents. It is only once the sin is publicly revealed that she is liberated by the truth.
Although those she assisted were cruel towards her, Hester still remained generous and helpful towards others. For example after she was known to be a talented seamstress and gradually beginning to earn some money, Hester bestowed all her superfluous means in charity, on wretches less miserable than herself and, who not unfrequently insulted the hand that fed them. This showed that even though Hester was shunned from society, she continued to care for the same community. She had such a kind heart and willingness to help others that the fact that those whom she fed often returned the favor with insults didn’t deter her efforts.
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