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Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The evils and goods of mankind are illustrated in the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter. The author was assured that every human being is mainly composed by good or evil and by the opposite in part. The novel depicts the lives of four persons who live in a small Puritan town. The main heroes of The Scarlet Letter were Pearl, Hester Prynne, Robert Chilling worth, and Rev.
Dimmesdale. All of them committed sins by their own, but they all also made some good deeds. A writer of story-books! What kind of a business in life, what mode of glorifying God, or being serviceable to mankind in his day and generation, may that be? Why, the degenerate fellow might as well have been a fiddler! Such are the compliments bandied between my great-grandsire's and myself, across the gulf of time!
And yet, let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine. (Hawthorne, 12) With this quote Hawthorne introduces the novel to a reader, showing his version of Hester Prynne's story. Hester Prynne here represents the American past, thus reflecting some personal dilemmas of the narrator. The author made Hester a very compelling character, especially in the social context the novel was written. Th string for this book is place in a small Puritan town. Th town is very gloomy and gray. Thr is basically no color at all.
Th only color is th start let on Hours best, parl's cloths, and th ros bush nar th jail. Th atmosphere is very tns and strict. Th simple things ar take very seriously, and sins ar take xtrmly seriously. Hawthorn uss regionalism to hlp th read gt a but sns of th mentality of th popl back thn. H dos this by putting th dialogue in th native puritan tongue and using image to describe the does and styl of living.
The basic scheme for this book is fairly complicated. Hester has had an affair with the Rev. Dimmesdale, and has had a child for him. The Reverend, being an important figure in the community, has asked Hester to promise not to expose his crime to the public. Because of her love for Dimmesdale, she keeps this secret and bears the shame on her own. Her husband appears just as the town was publicly ridiculing her.
He also asks her to promise not to reveal his identity, so that he could search for the second party and expose them in an act of revenge. As the years pass the Reverends health diminishes and he eventually dies. Before he dies he reveals his sin upon the scaffold in front of many spectators. It is then said that there was the appearance of the scarlet letter on his breast, therefore eternally sharing the shame with Hester. Symbols played a major part in this book. The major symbol was the scarlet letter itself.
The scarlet letter not only symbolized Hester's sins, but it also symbolized her good works, her daughter, her skills, and her strength. Throughout the book the meaning of the scarlet letter evolves. Another symbol in this book is the color red. It shows up many times within the book. The underlying meaning of the letter A was adultery, but as the book goes on it comes to mean angel, ability, alienation, alone, admire, adore, and Pearl her self becomes the living embodiment of the scarlet letter. All the good meanings seem to overpower the bad meaning.
The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss. (Hawthorne, 114) Hester becomes a Good Samaritan to the people of the community. She cares for those in sickness and tends to them while theyre at their deathbed. She is seen as their savior and angel.
Also the scarlet A in the sky is said to stand for angel, thus changing the meaning of the letter from bad to good. Her ability to sew was also a form of the letter A. It showed how skilled she was with her hands, and often times her products were fit for royalty. Alienation was yet another form of the letter A.
While the rest of the town lived near one another, Hester was set apart from everyone else, and lived in a cottage near the beach. Although this might seem like a bad thing, you have to look at it from a different perspective. When someone alienates a person, they set them apart form others. Set apart also means hallowed, scared, or holy. One could also say that the letter A could mean alone, but even though she had no friends she was never alone because Pearl was always there with her. The people of the town came to Admire Hester because of her skill, and unselfish caring and giving.
They also A"does her by always telling people of their beloved saint-like Hester. Pearl was also a major symbol of the letter A because she was the living embodiment of the letter itself. Hester always dressed little Pearl in the colors of the scarlet letter. Also Pearls beauty symbolizes that the scarlet letter is something beautiful. Hester carries her shame every where with her; just she takes Pearl every where with her. Lastly, at the end of the book when the scarlet letter is imprinted on Dimmesdale's breast, symbolized his eternal connection with Hester.
Color is another theme in the book. The town is very dark and gloomy, and the atmosphere is very strict, tense, and melancholy. The colors in the town were mostly grays and blacks. Only when Hester went out, the town became sunny and bright, which symbolized the good she brought to the town. The rose bush surrounded with weeds, near the jail symbolized Hester and Pearl surrounded by the community.
This showed that Hester and Pearl brought something good to a lot of bad. The forest offers a sanctuary from the harshness of Puritan life, symbolizes the character of Pearl and represents evil. The forest offers a sanctuary from the harshness of everyday Puritan life. In the forest, many pivotal characters can bring forth hidden emotions and thoughts. The forest trail leads characters away from the Puritan settlement, and out into the dense and dark forest.
This seems to be the only escape for the Puritans in the novel. This is the only place where the people can be free from Puritan law and code. It is here, in the forest that Dimmesdale can express his deep love for Hester and where she can do the same for him. The forest is a place where freedom can be established. Here, nobody watches to report misbehavior, as they do in the settlement. Here, people may do as they wish.
The forest seems to beg Hester, Throw off the shackles of law and religion, come to me and be mattress (Hawthorne 176). She takes advantage of the forests offer when she meets up with Dimmesdale. She openly talks with Dimmesdale about subjects that would never be mentioned in any other place but the forest. As they sit on a moss bed, Hester tells Dimmesdale What we did Hester reminds him, Had a consecration of its own.
We felt it so, we said that to each other (Hawthorne 186)! Shocked, Dimmesdale quickly hushes her, for this is the first time they have mentioned this issue. He eventually realizes that he is in a safe environment. Here in the forest they can throw away all of the laws and be themselves. The forest provides an umbrella of security for the main characters. The motif of civilization versus wilderness is presented in the Chapter XXII: Mother, said [Pearl], was that the same minister that kissed me by the brook?
Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl! whispered her mother. We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest. (Hawthorne, 143) This took place just a few days after the Hester and Pearls encounter with Dimmesdale in the forest. Here the physical settings of the novels are evoked. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the forest symbolizes Pearl. Pearl and the forest go hand in hand.
One of Pearls favorite activities is playing with the flowers and trees. The puritans believe that anything associated with the forest is evil, so Pearl must have has a little spark in her. Hawthorne says, And she was gentler here than in the grassy-marine streets of the settlement, or in her mothers cottage. The flowers appeared to know it (Hawthorne, 194). Pearl obviously fit in with natural things. Like the forest, Pearl is mysterious and wild.
The forest, being the mysterious place that it is, represents Pearl in the novel because she is not fully understood. It is difficult to tell why she does certain things, and what she is thinking when she does them. When strangers in the town spoke to Pearl, she would not answer them. Instead She gazed intently, but never sought to make acquaintance (Hawthorne, 96).
Often times, Puritan children would gather around her, they were curious and wanted to interact with her. Instead of speaking to them, she would shout at them, She snatched up stones and flung them at the innocent children (Hawthorne 95). Hawthorne describes Pearl as almost witch-like, With shrill, incoherent exclamations that made her mother tremble because they had so much the sound of a witches anathemas in some unknown tongue (Hawthorne, 96). Nobody understood her or why she did such awful things.
Pearl was also wild like the forest, The child could not be made amenable to the rules (Hawthorne 93). She often threw flowers at her mothers A. In the forest, Pearl would run wild; she would swing in-between trees and lay in the tall grass. She had vigor and natural dexterity (Hawthorne 92).
The Puritan society was not the place for pearl. They were not ready for such a radical at this time, and she was a radical! Pearl and the forest go together hand in hand because they are both mysterious and wild. The forest itself also represents evil. The Puritans believe that the forest and anything associated with it are evil. This would mean that the Black man, Mistress Hibbins and the witches all evil in Puritan eyes.
Throughout the novel, there is a constant reference to the Black man, who is better known to us as the devil. While in the forest, Pearl asks Hester, Tell me a story story about the black man (Hawthorne 177). Pearl goes on to inquire about the black man. Hester tells her that he is evil, that he lives in the forest, and that she has signed his book.
She is again admitting to her sin. So, Pearl of all people, is in the forest, inquiring about the Black man, what a combination, evil, evil, evil! Mistress Hibbins can also be seen in the forest during her witches meetings. Mistress Hibbins asks Hester, will thou go with us tonight I well neigh promised the Black man (Hawthorne 116). Hester Prynne does not want to have anything to do with the evil, and tells her no. The forest is a deep dark place where evil and lawless people run wild.
The Puritans reject Pearl, who is like the forest. They also reject the Black man who lives there and the witches, who meet there. Puritan society can be harsh and can deteriorate ones inner self. Hawthorne created the forest to give characters a place to escape and express their true emotions and beliefs. The forest was a place where ideas and feeling could flow as endlessly as the babbling brook.
The emotions expressed, as well as Pearl, were as wild as the forest. The forest played the most important role in the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It provided an umbrella of security for the characters, symbolized Pearl and was a symbol of evil in itself. The novel details how sin affects the lives of the people involved. For Hester, the sin forces her into isolation from society and even from herself.
Her qualities that the writer describes i. e. her beauty, womanly qualities, and passion are, after a time, eclipsed by the A she is forced to wear. After she wears the scarlet letter for a time, writer paints a picture of her with her hair out of site under the cap, and all the womanliness gone from her. More than a tale of sin, Scarlet letter is also an intense love story that shows itself in the forest scene between Hester and Dimmesdale. With plans to run away, Arthur and Hester show that their love has surpassed distance and time away from each other.
This love also explains why Hester would not reveal the identity of her fellow sinner when asked on the scaffold. Through it all, the writer illustrates that even sin can produce purity, and purity came in form of Pearl. When she is isolated with her mother she finds her company and joy in nature that surrounds her. Through the book she is asking the minister to confess his sin to the town people, knowing that it will ease his pain.
This is not only the story about love vs. hate, sin vs. purity, good vs. evil, but all of these combined to make a strikingly historical tragedy as well. Bibliography: Barlow, Jamie. The Scarlet Mob of Scribblers: Rereading Hester Prynne.
Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000. By, Nina. The Scarlet Letter: A Reading. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986. Bercovitch, Scan. The Office of the Scarlet Letter.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. Berlin, Lauren. The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1996. Johnson, Claudia D. Understanding The Scarlet Letter: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1995.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. London: Penguin Publishers, 1988 Kester son, David B. , ed. Critical Essays on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Boston: G. K.
Hall, 1988. Matthiessen, F. O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1941. Thickston, Margaret. Fictions of the Feminine: Puritan Doctrine and the Representation of Women. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1988.
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