Sympathy for the Devil in Nathaniel Hawthrone´s The Scarlet Letter Essay

Sympathy for the Devil in Nathaniel Hawthrone´s The Scarlet Letter Essay

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Although not commonly associated with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the devil is mentioned the classic American novel. Hawthorne describes Satan as a tall, black man who lives in the woods, interacting with humans and witches to corrupt their souls. Portrayals of Satan throughout history have given him many different associations, one of the most well-known displays of him being in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, Inferno and Peter Cook’s comedic film, Bedazzled. In these two depictions, the devil is shown malicious yet tragic figure, although his reaction his punishments vary.
Satan, as in most pieces of literature and media, is depicted as a root of evil in the Inferno and Bedazzled. In Dante’s Inferno, the deepest circle of the Inferno is represented by the sin of treason, where Satan and three others are trapped in a frozen lake in the center of Hell below a large pit guarded by giants. Here Satan and the men are punished for all of eternity, “I never saw such spread of ocean canvas to the wind: but these were bat-like, plumeless, and the wind they bred, - They flapped unceasing - caused the glacier freeze Down which we traversed,” (Dante). Satan’s vicious betrayal of God leads to an eternity of punishment and suffering for him, reflecting how grave his violent sins were before he was cast into hell. Even in his punishment, Satan tortures others, gnawing on their backs for the rest of time. The Devil as George Spiggott in Bedazzled also demonstrates venomous behavior as he repeatedly tricks Stanley Moon into suffering through his non-specific wishes. Throughout the film, we see examples of George Spiggott terrorizing normal citizens with birds, bees, and parking tickets. Spiggott even demonstrates malicious behavior a...


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... (Cook). Spiggott interprets his punishment as a personal challenge from God, reacting to his sentence in a much more affronted manner than Dante’s Satan. Because Cook’s devil is not restricted, he is able to challenge God to a contest, rather than bear his punishment in silence like Dante’s devil.
The devil has taken on many forms in both legend and media throughout history. Whether it is a con-man in a suit, or a vicious minotaur-like monster, the devil has been a representation of human evil since his conception. Satan in both Dante’s Inferno and Peter Cook’s Bedazzled is seen as an evil figure forced into an eternity of punishment, yet sympathetic because of this. However, both representations of the devil differ in how much power Satan is allotted. As humanity continues to define true evil, it must decide for itself how much power it allows evil in this world.

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