The Scarlet Letter is a novel that describes the psychological torment of two rule characters. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimondale. They are both enduring under. while trying to come to footings with. their common wickedness of criminal conversation in a rigorous Puritan society. As critics instantly recognized upon publication of the novel in 1850. one of its chief subjects involved struggle between the person and society.
Hawthorne represents the austere and baleful force of Puritan society in the first sentence of the first chapter. where he describes a “throng of bearded work forces. in sad-colored garments and grey. ” who stand before the prison door “which was to a great extent timbered with oak. and studded with Fe spikes. ” and behind which was Hester Public Guilt V. Private Guilt Possibly the foremost intent of The Scarlet Letter is to exemplify the difference between dishonoring person in public and leting him or her to endure the effects of an unfair act in private.
Harmonizing to the legal legislative acts at the clip and the prevalent sentiment of maintaining in conformity with a rigorous reading of the Bible. criminal conversation was a capital wickedness that required the executing of both fornicator and adulteress–or at the really least. terrible public bodily penalty. Indeed. even if the hubby wanted to maintain his married woman alive after she committed criminal conversation. the jurisprudence insisted that she would hold to decease for it. It is in this environment that Hester commits criminal conversation with Dimmesdale. but we come to see that the public shaming can non get down to account for all the complexnesss of the illicit relationship–or the context of it.
What Hawthorne sets out to portray. so. is how the private ideas. the private anguish and guilt and emotional devastation of the people involved in the matter. are more than adequate penalty for the offense. We wonder whether the province or society has any right to enforce jurisprudence in private affairs between citizens. Does adultery truly hold no impact upon the lives of others? If non. it should non be seen as a offense against the small town.
A more charitable reading of the Bible would come subsequently in contemplations on the New Testament reading of criminal conversation jurisprudence. viz. . that the public need non step in to penalize a offense when we ourselves have our ain wickednesss to be judged. Each individual suffers enough already for his or her ain wickednesss. Punishment vs. Forgiveness One of the more compelling subjects of the novel is embodied by Chillingworth. who seems the supreme authority of moral judgement in the narrative. since Dimmesdale–the curate and the supposed purveyor of righteousness–is himself tainted as a party to the offense.
Chillingworth is surprisingly forgiving of Hester’s offense. We sense that he understands why she would abandon him. After all. he is deformed. he is older. he has non been nearby. while she is beautiful and passionate. Indeed. we get the feeling that Chillingworth’s self-loathing allows him to forgive Hester. but this property besides increases the inexorability and fury with which he goes after Dimmesdale. In Dimmesdale. he sees the energy and passion which Hester desires and which he himself does non possess.
Like a bloodsucker. he’s out to suck Dimmesdale of his life force. non merely to penalize the curate for the offense of fornicating with his married woman. but besides to symbolically appropriate Dimmesdale’s virility. And as the novel continues. Chillingworth seems to turn stronger while Dimmesdale seems to weaken. That form continues until Dimmesdale dies in an act of rebelliousness. his public presentation of guilt. which basically leaves Chillingworth stripped bare of his power to penalize or forgive. The Scarlet Letter The vermilion missive is symbolic in a figure of different ways. but possibly most in the ways that the evildoers choose to have on it.
Hawthorne’s productive image for the novel was that of a adult female charged with criminal conversation and forced to have on the missive A upon her apparels. but upon have oning it. decided to add fancy embellishment as if to allow the missive as a point of pride. Hawthorne read about this pick in an existent instance in 1844. recorded it in his diary. and therefore The Scarlet Letter was born as Hester Prynne’s narrative. Hester. a knitter by trade. sees the missive as a load laid on by society. an act of community-enforced guilt that she is forced to bear. even though it seems to do small difference for her private ideas.
Dimmesdale. nevertheless. as the town curate. wears his ain vermilion A burned upon his flesh. since it is the community’s fury he fears the most. Therefore we see the difference between a adult female who has made peace with the offense. publically confesses. and endures the enduring the community imposes. and a adult male who imposes his ain penalty because he can non bear to uncover the offense to the community. Civilization vs. Wilderness Pearl embodies the subject of wilderness over against civilisation. After all. she is a sort of incarnation of the vermilion missive: natural state. passionate. and wholly unmindful to the regulations. mores. and legal legislative acts of the clip.
Pearl is artlessness. in a manner. an individualistic passionate artlessness. So long as Dimmesdale is alive. Pearl seems to be a magnet that attracts Hester and Dimmesdale. about demanding their rapprochement or some kind of energetic rapprochement. But every bit shortly as Dimmesdale dies. Pearl seems to lose her energy and becomes a normal miss. able to get married and absorb into society. The deduction is therefore that Pearl genuinely was a kid of lecherousness or love. a merchandise of activity outside the boundaries imposed by rigorous Puritan society.
Once the fire of love is extinguished. she can decently absorb. The Town vs. the Woods In the town. Hester normally is confronted with the legal and moral effects of her offense. Governor Bellingham comes to take her kid off. Chillingworth reminds her of her title. and she faces Dimmesdale in the context of evildoer ( his repute remains stainless despite his function in the matter ) . But whenever Hester leaves the town and enters the forests. a traditional symbol of unchecked passion without boundaries. she is free to rediscover herself.
The forests besides traditionally emblematize darkness. In the darkness of dark. Hester is free to run into Dimmesdale. to squeal her scruples. and to populate apart from the torture and loads of the guilt enforced by the community. Dimmesdale excessively is free at dark to expose his guilt on the scaffold and reconcile with Hester. Memories vs. the Present Hester Prynne’s discourtesy against society occurred seven old ages earlier. but she remains punished for it. Hester learned to forgive herself for her criminal conversation. but society continues to contemn her for it. One might retrieve Jean Valjean’s lasting individuality as condemnable after a individual minor offense in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. ) Indeed. Hester reaches peace with her matter and in that peace comes to see the town as insufficiently forgiving in its ideas and attitudes. Pearl is adequate of a reminder of the wild picks in her yesteryear. and as Pearl grows up. Hester continues to populate in the present instead than in the yesteryear. Reverend Dimmesdale. interim. is haunted in the present by wickednesss past and seems to reflect ( along with Chillingworth ) the town’s inclination to penalize long after the discourtesy.
In stamp downing his ain confession. Dimmesdale remains focused on coming to footings with a iniquitous past alternatively of looking forthrightly at the jobs of the present. Many of the major subjects of The Scarlet Letter are introduced in the gap scene. Some of these subjects were sin. nature’s kindness to the condemned and the drab life style of puritan society. The first chapter has small action but it sets up these major subjects. The tone of the whole narrative was set in this chapter. The opening scene of The Scarlet Letter. many major subjects were introduced. Sin
Sin is a portion of mundane life. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel. The Scarlet Letter. revolves around the subject of wickedness and the effects it has on the head. organic structure. and soul A wickedness was committed by three of the chief characters in the novel and throughout the fresh Hawthorne attempts to indicate out that wickedness. no affair how fiddling or how significant. is still sin. There have been arguments on precisely who is the biggest evildoer. but in Hawthorne’s instance. I think he believes that the wickednesss were equal and throughout the novel he develops each of them. seeking to acquire the reader to understand is concluding.
Adultery. which was the wickedness environing two of the chief characters. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. was the wickedness in which the novel was based on. Hester committed criminal conversation with Dimmesdale. a Puritan curate. and had a kid ( Pearl ) as life cogent evidence of her wickedness. She confessed her wickedness and was looked down upon by the citizens populating in the town. “She would go the general symbol at which the sermonizer and moralist might indicate. and in which they might animate and incarnate their images of woman’s infirmity and iniquitous passion. Basically. she was an illustration of what cipher should go The wickedness of criminal conversation was confessed by one of the two. but Arthur Dimmesdale decided to maintain it a secret. which in clip torus him apart.
Bing a curate. he was afraid of the effects that would ensue from his confession. so for seven long old ages he and Hester kept it a secret. and were ne’er seen together in public Roger Chillingworth. Hester’s hubby. and the other evildoer in this novel. sought retaliation on whoever the male parent to Pearl was. He oon suspected Dimmesdale. and would non rest until got retaliation on him. Chillingworth pretended to be a physician and was to take attention of Dimmesdale. but at the same clip he was easy poisoning him and penalizing him physically and mentally. As you can see wickedness was apparent in all three of these characters’ lives. Hawthorne non merely dealt with merely the wickedness. but how sin can impact a individual if non professed To travel even deeper into the first subject. Hawthorne. throughout the novel. explains how unconfessed wickedness can eat off at the scruples and destruct the psyche.
Hester. who had confessed her wickedness of criminal conversation. wore the vermilion A as a symbol of her faithless wickedness and through most of the novel lived as a societal castaway in the Puritan society. She was looked at as an illustration of what non to be. Pearl. Hester’s lively. unmanageable girl is the populating consequence of Hester’s wickedness. and for the most portion the two lived together in shame and guilt. In the terminal. as a consequence of Hester’s confession. the wickedness does non destruct her. but alternatively makes her stronger and braver and she flourishes in malice of the symbol on her thorax.
Dimmesdale. who committed criminal conversation with Hester. delaies until the wickedness wholly destroys him before he confesses. Throughout the narrative. while Hester was being put through the shame of her wickedness. Dimmesdale hides his wickedness. neglecting to call himself the other fornicator or claim Pearl as his girl. His alleviation shortly comes in the tragic stoping. as Dimmesdale confesses his criminal conversation and stands openly with Hester and Pearl. As he eventually admits his wickedness. his guilty scruples is lifted and he frees himself from Chillingworth’s appreciation. which allows him to eventually decease. free of guilt.
Sin was. without a uncertainty. a major portion of these three characters’ lives. and Hawthorne does a great occupation of uncovering that to his readers. He points out the immorality in each character. and explained how wickedness haunted Arthur Dimmesdale until he volitionally confessed it. Through his thorough account of each of the three characters and their functions in the novel. he decidedly proves that wickedness is every bit awful no affair how unlogical it may look. Nature’s kindness The prison was really black and worn down and old. It was really unforgiving for the captives. The lone mark of hope was a rosebush that grew near the prison.
But on one side of the orifice land rooted about on the threshhold. was a wild rosebush. covered. in this month of June. with its delicate Jaish-i-Mohammeds. which might be imagined to offer their aroma and delicate beauty to the captive as he went in. and to the condemned felon as he came away to his day of reckoning. ” Nature was the lone thing sort to the condemned. This subject was really of import later in the book when Dimmesdale. Hester and Pearl met in the wood. A major them in The Scarlet Letter was nature’s kindness to the condomned Revenge Revenge is a dish best served cold. ( And with a side of french friess.
But isn’t everything best served with a side of french friess? ) Roger Chillingworth seems to hold. as you can no uncertainty state by the highly frigid sham name that he chooses. He spends seven old ages psychologically tormenting Hester’s lover Dimmesdale. maintaining him alive merely so he can squash out just… a… little… . more retribution. Unfortunately. retaliation in The Scarlet Letter is besides served with an unexpected side: the loss of humanity. It turns out that God is the lone 1 who gets to make the revenging around these parts. and he’s got a small surprise for our anti-hero Justice and Judgment
Some Torahs can straddle the religious/secular divide reasonably comfy. Stealing? We’re reasonably certain God wouldn’t want you to make that. Murder? Decidedly non. But what about driving without your licence? Or making some minor imbibing ( which Shmoop firmly disapproves of ) ? Does God care about those Torahs? If you lived in Puritan America as represented by The Scarlet Letter. the reply would be yes: there’s no difference between God’s jurisprudence and man’s jurisprudence. Breaking colonial jurisprudence is the same as interrupting God’s jurisprudence. On the one manus. great: at least there’s lucidity. right?
On the other manus. the conflation of God’s jurisprudence with man’s jurisprudence creates an intolerant. autocratic society with no room for human errors. Not excessively cool The Forest and the Wilderness To the townsfolk. the wood is the unknown. It’s outside of the town. it’s full of American Indians and chilling animals and worst of all. and it’s utterly lawless. The town is ruled by jurisprudence and faith ; the forest a topographic point of passion and emotion. We see this when the storyteller compares Hester’s castaway province to a wood: “She had wandered. without regulation or counsel. in a moral wilderness ; as vast. as intricate and shady. as the wild forest” .
In other words. Hester is cast out of the regulations and order of the town. forced to populate in a metaphorical wood: a wilderness of shadowy right and incorrect. Obviously. Hester’s small bungalow is “on the outskirts of the town… out of the domain of that societal activity which already marked the wonts of the emigrants” . Into the Forests But while the Puritans seem to be sort of terrified of the wood. the storyteller isn’t. In fact. the storyteller associates Nature with kindness and love from the really beginning of this narrative. when the wild rosebush reminds all that “the deep bosom of Nature could feel for and be sort to him” .
It’s non that the forests are all sugariness and visible radiation. They can be unsafe. excessively. Here. the wood seems to stand for possible: that portion of human nature that can’t be squashed and beaten into entry. It’s a topographic point where the psyche can be free. with all its wild passions and brainsick thoughts and secret sorrows ; it’s a topographic point for Hester and Dimmesdale to run into in purdah. and love. and anguish where they “deeply” can cognize each other If life on the town is all surface and visual aspect and regulations. so life in the wood is all deepness and emotion. And you can’t unrecorded like that—you can’t unrecorded in the forests. But you sure can see every one time in a piece