The Scarlet Letter Analysis Essay

Table of Content

Hester Prime Committed Adultery, and her punishment was that she had to go through out her life for 7 years wearing a shinny scarlet red A. The book could be considered a Metaphor because the scarlet letter was Hester symbol of punishment. It was a way for the townspeople to judge Hester literally and figuratively as a woman, when it is clearly shown that the townspeople were no better (if not much worse) than Hester. You find examples of The theme In the scarlet letter all over the book.

For one the scarlet letter, it would e finding your true Identity, and your real role In society. After Hester Is publicly shamed and forced by the people to wear a The A, she never thought really to leave. Hester reacts with surprise when she is told the town fathers are considering letting her remove the letter. Hester behavior is based on her want to determine her own identity rather than to allow others to determine it for her. For Hester, running away or removing the letter would be an acknowledgment of society power over her. He would be admitting that the letter Is a mark of shame and something from which she desires to escape. He stays, the scarlet letter Is used as a symbol of her own experiences and character. Her past sin is who she is, to pretend that it never happened would mean denying a part of herself. Hester is determined to invite her sin into her life. Authors sometimes use symbols in their books to represent different objects, people, or ideas. In the beginning, Hester wears the “A” and was labeled on sin. As the book went the meaning as the “A”” made a change for the better In Hester life.

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The “A” had negative meaning, Hawthorne turns the meaning around In the story to mean able. The fact that Hester was given many hours of time ND service to the sick, poor and troubled Hester began to gain respect from some of the town’s people. The “A” on her chest changed the meaning of adultery to something she could be proud of. Hester in the story has more self- esteem and is looked upon herself as a good person after her love is revealed. Hawthorn lets us understand that no matter what others think of Hester it does not seem to matter. Section II: Author: The Author of the scarlet Letter Is Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Hawthorns major theme issues in The Scarlet Letter, is the never ending sin, many times throughout the book, Hawthorne shows sympathy towards Hester because of the emotional problems she faces. He sees her as the victim quite often and blames it on her childhood. He feels that once she has over come her guilt and has accepted her punishment, then Hester should be able to start over from scratch and the sin on her back would disappear, but the sin remains with Hester for seven years until her death, and her Puritan community never seems to forgive her for her sins.

It is clear that in book, Hawthorne attempts to express his feelings on Puritan life and their beliefs towards sinners. But, people should be able to leave the past behind them and start over, but that never seems to happen, and Hester is forced to live with her guilt until she dies. Section Ill: Setting: The time period In the Scarlet Letter, was In the 17th century In new England, England to practice their religious beliefs after leaving the Old World. The time period was significant and played a big role back in the mid-assess when the author, Hawthorne became interested with the religious in the Puritan era.

By the time it reached American shores in the late sass, Puritanism had become a problem with he original ideals that led to the travesties like the treatment of Hester and eventually the Salem Witch Trials. The time period is very important because it is a time of religious intolerance in New England, where both works of literature take place. The Puritan setting is important in the story. The reason behind the townspeople persecuting sinners is because of the Puritan beliefs of the time period. Ere setting of a religiously intolerant is the main reason behind the conflict that lies in The Scarlet Letter.

Section lb. Plot: Ere Plot Summary: The story begins as Hester Prone, is led out of a prison carrying n infant, in her arms. A bright red “A” is on her chest. Hester recognizes her husband, Chlorinating, in the crowd. He recognizes her too, and is shocked. Chlorinating pretends not to know Her, and learns her story from a man in the crowd. She fell into sin, committing the adultery that resulted in her baby and the scarlet “A” on her breast. Chlorinating knows the unknown man will be found out, but when commanded to reveal the man’s name, Hester refuses and is sent back to her prison cell.

Her husband pretends to be a doctor to speak with Hester, and is told not to tell anyone about there marriage. Hester is let out of prison and moves near the forest. She makes a Job as a seamstress, though the people who employ her still shun her. Hester refuses to tell Pearl what the scarlet letter signifies, and Pearl becomes obsessed with the letter. Timescale has carved a mark over his heart that resembles Hester scarlet letter, Chlorinating realizes that Timescale is Hester Baby-daddy. Chlorinating decides to torment and expose Timescale.

Under Clownishness’s care. Damselfly’s guilt for committing and concealing adultery causes him profound emotional suffering. He even starves and whips himself as punishment. Hester decides she must help Timescale, and pleads with Chlorinating to stop punishing him. Chlorinating knows that he’s being cruel but argues that he’s actually protecting Timescale by not revealing his secret to the public. She convinces Timescale to flee with her and Pearl to Europe, and they make plans to take a ship the day after Timescale is scheduled to deliver an important sermon.

But he’s dying and won’t make it to Europe. So, He mounts the scaffold and asks Hester and Pearl to Join him. Confusing, his sin to the crowd and bares his chest, revealing a scarlet letter carved into his own skin. He dies as Pearl kisses him for the first time. Hester and Pearl leave Boston. Many years later, Hester returns to her cabin on the outskirts of town. She still wears her letter “A. ” Pearl has married into money in Europe and writes to Hester on occasion. Hester remains in Boston until her death and is buried alongside Timescale.

Section V:Point of view: Ere perspective in which the story is told throughout the Scarlet Letter is, Third person. The POP affects the readers understanding on the Scarlet letter because It allows us to see all the characters neutrally and learn about them slowly. Hester Prone, As the sinner of the scarlet letter, she may be expected to possess some definitive insight available to no one else. Hester is a magnificent woman fighting for heroine, you have to understand Hester. With her eyes, her rich complexion, and her abundant hair, she stands for what a real woman should be beside a crowd of Puritans. T is true that during the years of her punishment, Hester tries to do away with her spirit and sensuality, hiding it all beneath a sad cap. But she can’t do it. Hester Prone, if not the out-and-out criminal the Puritans believe her to be, is still a woman who has deeply sinned. She is, after all, guilty of adultery-no small matter, even today. As Hester herself admits, she has wronged her husband. And so she bears some responsibility for the evil of Clownishness’s heart. Hester is, indeed, a sinner. But her sin is a cause not of evil but of good. Suffering disciplines Hester, so that she grows strong..

In fact, the best of Hester life come about through her fall from grace. Her charity to the poor, her comfort to the broken-hearted, her unquestioned presence in times of trouble are the direct result of her search for repentance. If Hester had not sinned, she would never have discovered the true paths within herself. Hester is neither a heroine nor a sinner, but something in between. She is a flesh-and-blood woman in tragic circumstances, trapped in a loveless marriage and in love with another man. Whichever way she moves, there is bound to be a sacrifice of some vital part of herself, either her honor or her deepest need.

Section VI: Characterization: Hester prone; Shamed from the rest of the community, Hester becomes contemplative. She is human nature, social organization, and moral questions. Hester struggles also lead her to be stoic and a freethinker. Hester also becomes a kind of figure as a result of her sin. Hester moderates her tendency to be rash, for she knows that such behavior could cause her to lose her daughter, Pearl. Hester is also maternal with respect to society, she cares for the poor and brings them food and clothing. By the end, Hester has become a protectionism mother fugue to the women of the community.

The shame attached to her scarlet letter is long gone. Women recognize that her punishment stemmed in part from the town fathers’ sexism, and they come to Hester seeking shelter from the sexist forces under which they themselves suffer. Throughout The Scarlet Letter Hester is portrayed as an intelligent, capable, but not necessarily extraordinary woman. It is the extraordinary circumstances shaping her that make her such an important figure. Roger Chlorinating; Roger Chlorinating is a man in human warmth. His evil self mirror his distorted soul.

From what the reader is told of his early years with Hester, he was a difficult husband. He ignored his wife for much of the time, yet expected her to help his soul with affection when he did condescend to spend time with her. Clownishness’s death is a result of the nature of his character. Ultimately, Chlorinating represents true evil. He is revenge, not Justice, and he seeks the deliberate destruction of others rather than of wrongs. His desire to hurt others stands in contrast to Hester and Damselfly’s sin, which had love, not hate, as its intent.

Any harm that may have come from the young lovers’ deed was unanticipated whereas Chlorinating reaps deliberate harm. Arthur Timescale; The reader is told that Timescale was a scholar of some renown at Oxford University. Timescale has an unusually active conscience. The fact that Hester takes all of the blame for their shared sin goads his conscience, and his physical weakness open up peaked and a compassionate leader, and his congregation is able to receive meaningful spiritual guidance from him, the townspeople do not believe Damselfly’s protestations of sinfulness.

Timescale to further internalize his guilt and self-punishment and leads to still more deterioration in his physical and spiritual condition. The town’s utilization of him reaches new heights after his Election Day sermon, which is his last. In his death, Timescale becomes even more of an icon than he was in life. Many believe his confession was a symbolic act, while others believe Damselfly’s fate was an example of divine Judgment. Pearl; She is quite young during most of the events of this novel and her real importance lies in her ability to provoke the adult characters in the book.

She asks them pointed questions and draws their attention, and the reader’s, to the denied or overlooked truths of the adult world. Pearl makes us constantly aware of her mother’s scarlet letter and of the society that produced it. She fixates on the “A”. Pearl’s innocent, or perhaps intuitive, comments about the letter raise questions about its meaning. Similarly, she inquires about the relationships between those around her?most important, the relationship between Hester and Timescale?and offers perceptive opinions of them.

Section VIII: Theme: 1 . Punishment vs.. Forgiveness: One of the more compelling themes of the novel is embodied by Chlorinating, who seems the arbiter of moral Judgment in the story, since Timescale, the minister and the supposed purveyor of righteousness, is himself tainted as a party to the crime. Chlorinating is surprisingly forgiving of Hester crime. We sense that he understands why she would forsake him. After all, he is deformed, he is older, he has not been nearby, while she is beautiful and assassinate.

We get the feeling that Clownishness’s self-loathing allows him to forgive Hester, but this attribute also increases the relentlessness and rage with which he goes after Timescale. In Timescale, he sees the vigor and passion which Hester desires and which he himself does not possess. Like a leech, he’s out to suck Timescale of his life force, not Just to punish the minister for the crime of fornicating with his wife, but also to symbolically appropriate Damselfly’s virility. And as the novel continues, Chlorinating seems to grow stronger while Timescale seems to weaken.

That pattern continues until Timescale dies in an act of defiance, his public demonstration of guilt, which essentially leaves Chlorinating stripped bare of his power to punish or forgive. 2. Sin: The Scarlet Letter consistently calls into question the notion of sin and what is necessary for redemption. She married Chlorinating without quite understanding the commitment she made, and then she had to live without him while he was abroad, then fell in love with Timescale, perhaps discovering the feeling for the first time. Committing adultery with Timescale and breaking her vow and commitment.

For each kind of sin, we Ender if the punishment fits the crime and what must be done, if anything, to redeem the sinner in the eyes of society as well as in the eyes of the sinner himself or herself. We also should remember that what the Puritans thought of as sin was different from what went for sin in Hawthorn’s time, both being different from what many Christians think of as sin today. This should not teach us moral relativism, but It should encourage us to be wary of Judging others. Section VIII: Literary Devices: suspense to the reader, engaging them in a unique conflict.

The most prominent examples of irony and the central core of the novel is Hester Prune’s crime of adultery. It appears to be quite ironic and unimaginable, that a dignified young Oman like Hester, the wife of scholar yet, could commit such a crime. Once word spreads of Hester crime, the entire village of Boston is turned in awe at the fact that adultery was committed in their very own town. This causes the townspeople to dislike Hester, and now they only view her as a pathetic excuse for a person. The plot turns even more ironic once the reader discovers that a minister, Arthur Timescale

Nas the one who Hester had the affair with. Although the villagers don’t know of this until the end of the novel when Timescale confesses, this information comes as a shock to the reader. It seems unheard of that a minister, who preaches against sin and the consequences that come with them, could commit such an awful sin himself. These examples of irony are the driving force behind the plot of the novel. From Hester punishments to Damselfly’s secrecy, irony runs ramped through the book. It is this reasoning that sets the Scarlet Letter apart from many other novels of its time, which in itself is ironic. On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, Surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold, Thread, Appeared the letter A. ” “And never had Hester Prone appeared more lady-like, in the antique interpretation of the term, than as she issued from the prison. Those No had before known her, and had expected to behold her dimmed and obscured by a disastrous cloud, were astonished, and even startled, to perceive how her beauty shone out, and made a halo of the misfortune and ignominy in which she was enveloped. ” 2.

Symbolism: To begin with, the most important and influential symbol n the entire book is the infamous scarlet letter, hence the title, The Scarlet Letter. In the second chapter, Hester walks out of the prison, wearing the infamous scarlet letter ‘A’. During the first few years of Hester punishment, the letter was a daily reminder of shame. Hawthorne writes, “… Hester Prone had always this dreadful agony in feeling a human eye upon the token; the spot never grew callous; it seemed, on the contrary, to grow more sensitive with daily torture. As the story unfolds, though, this letter comes to mean other things to Hester and the people. Rather than ringing torture to Hester, it eventually becomes a symbol to some people meaning ‘able. ” In chapter 13, Hawthorne writes, “They said that it meant ‘Able’; so strong was Hester Prone, with a woman’s strength. ” Hawthorne writes, “The scarlet letter had not done its office. ” The scarlet letter was meant as a punishment for Hester, and yet here we see that it hasn’t punished Hester.

Then, in chapter 18, Hawthorne writes, ‘Thus, we seem to see that, as regarded Hester Prone, the whole seven years of outlaw and ignominy had been little other than a preparation for this very hour. ” Although the scarlet letter does bring shame to Hester, as Hawthorne writes, it has not performed its duty. Hester plans to skip town and go back to Europe with Timescale. If she had learned anything from the letter, she would have known better than to run away with a man who wasn’t her husband. Throughout the book, there are various meanings to the scarlet letter.

It means different things to different people – a sign of wealth to the butler, curiosity for Pearl, guilt for Timescale, rebelliousness, revenge or motivation for Chlorinating, and betrayal of one’s spouse, Inch the letter performed successfully. The scarlet letter is only one of the symbols representing Hester shame and punishment. Another one we see early in the book, at about the same time we see Hester wearing the scarlet letter for the first time in public, is the scaffold on which she stands after walking out of the prison.

In the second chapter, Hawthorne writes, “It was, in short, the platform of the pillory; and above it rose the framework of that instrument of discipline, so fashioned as to confine the human head in its tight grasp, and thus hold it up to the public gaze. The ‘ere ideal of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood ND iron. The scaffold, like the scarlet letter, to the Puritans, is a place of public shame for those persons who decide to break the Puritan Law.

It represents the sin of the person standing upon it and it shows the Puritan way of dealing with sin. Among the other symbols we see in the book is the sun and its shining. Its importance becomes more evident as the book comes to a close, but the earlier parts of the book are used to build up its significance. We see that the sun shines on Pearl quite often, but never on Hester Hawthorne uses several symbols to portray themes and ideas in this novel. 3. Diction: Hawthorn’s writing in the Scarlet Letter has a fairly denotative formal style.

His use of polysyllabic diction conveys a dark, serious mood disestablishing Pearl’s, Bellingham, Hester, Damselfly’s, and Clownishness’s antidisestablishmentarianism, emphasizes imagery, and communicates Hawthorn’s own regrets interrelations of hidden sins of the human heart. Upon describing Pearl in Chapter 6, Hawthorne chooses diction that highlights her beauty radiance: ‘luxuriance” “brilliant” “luster” “white”, connoting a “pearl” like appearance;yet he luxuriates this bright, innocent diction with “wild” “elf” “flightiness” to nonstarter’s as a impish being.

Throughout the book, Pearl is depicted through earthly and spiritualists, or in a more symbolic sense, a balance between light and dark, hope and sins. Hawthorne also describes her in a “fiery luster” further supporting the demonic yet beautiful Pearl. Hawthorn’s use of double interdependence through the story; for example, “rays” could mean a beam but can also candlelight Hester character is almost always paired with “passion” and is so through her love forbears yet she is also repressed because of sin through the Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne uses kicked and torturous diction to describe Hester and her guilt.

He is able to materialize tequila through using concrete language such as ‘brain” instead of mind in order to associate better with the reader. The diction of speech with each character demonstrates the timekeeper and strict, Puritan traditions. Through Theodosius governmental diction in Chapter 8 his highly position IS established in wisdom nudity. Upon meeting with Hester and Pearl however, Hawthorn’s diction changes in Housecleaning’s into regrets and exclamation once again Juxtaposing his words to present treasuring yet tortured Hester.

He gave her in requital of all things else, which ye headstand from me. She is my happiness- She is my torture none the less! ” (Chapter 8)These exclamations continue Hester impassioned expressions for her sins and love of Pearl. He also presents distinction between “earthly’ and “spiritual” of which Timescale antilogarithm may represent. In Damselfly’s mourning, Hawthorne uses administratively but also ambiguously as “eternal state”, foreshadowing Damselfly’s Crimean sins against provides Damselfly’s hopelessness in trying to “bury’ his past with history, instead of corrupting his spirit. Could be well content, that my labors, and my sorrows, and my sins, and my pains,should shortly end with me, and what is earthly of them be buried in my grave, and the spiritual go with me to my eternal state rather than that {o should put your skill to taproom in my behalf. ” Section ‘X: Quotes: “But Hester Prone, with a mind of native courage and activity, and for so long a period not merely estranged, but outlawed, from society, had habituated herself to such latitude of speculation as was altogether foreign to the clergyman. She had Meandered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness . .. 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. ” 1 . These are the narrator’s reflections at the beginning of Chapter 18, “A Flood of Sunshine. ” The quotation concerns the theme of sin and knowledge that is so central to The Scarlet Letter. Over the course of their first significant conversation in many years, Hester and Timescale decide to run away to Europe together.

The minister is still in a state of shock, but Hester accepts heir decision with relative equanimity. One result of her “sin” has been her profound alienation from society?she has been forced into the role of philosopher. Although the narrator tries to claim that her speculations have led her “amiss,” it is clear from his tone that he admires her intellectual bravery. It is deeply ironic, too, that it is her punishment, which was intended to help her atone and to make her an example for the community, that has led her into a “moral wilderness” devoid of “rule or guidance. Finally, this passage is a good example of the eloquent, high-flown yet assured style that the narrator frequently adopts when considering the moral or philosophical ramifications of a situation. “But there was a more real life for Hester Prone here, in New England, than in that unknown region where Pearl had found a home. Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence. She had returned, therefore, and resumed,?of her own free will, for not the sternest magistrate of that iron period would have imposed it,?resumed the symbol of which we have related so dark a tale.

Never afterwards did it quit her bosom. But . .. He scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too. ” 2. This passage, which appears in the novel’s final chapter, concludes the books examination of the theme of individual identity in the face of social Judgments. After many years’ absence, Hester has Just returned to her former home.

She resumes wearing the scarlet letter because her past is an important part of her identity; it is not something that should be erased or denied because someone else has decided it is shameful. What Hester undergoes is more akin to reconciliation than penitence. She creates a life in which the scarlet letter is a symbol of adversity overcome and of knowledge gained rather than a sign of failure or condemnation. She assumes control of her own identity, and in so doing she becomes an example for others. She is not, however, the example of sin that she Nas once intended to be.

Rather, she is an example of redemption and self- “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl! ” whispered her mother. “We empowerment. Conversation, which is described in Chapter 22, takes place a few days after Hester and Pearl’s encounter with Timescale in the forest. It emphasizes the importance of physical settings in the novel and evokes the motif of civilization versus the Mildness. Timescale has Just walked by Hester and Pearl as part of the Election Day pageantry, and Pearl notices his changed appearance.

Hester realization that different rules apply in the marketplace than in the forest has more significant consequences than she realizes, making this yet another ironic moment in the text. Hester primarily wishes Pearl to maintain a sense of decorum and not reveal her mother’s secret and the family plans to flee. On another level, though, Hester tenement suggests that plans made in the forest will not withstand the public scrutiny of the marketplace. What is possible in the woods?a place of fantasy, possibility, and freedom?is not an option in the heart of the Puritan town, where order, prescription, and harsh punishment reign.

Section X: Personal Response: didn’t exactly enjoy the scarlet letter at first. I don’t like to be forced to read books, that don’t exactly interest me. But as I got into the book, I actually found myself Anatine to keep reading. The storyline and the mystery of not knowing who Pearls dad was probably the main reason why I kept reading it. But also Nathaniel Hawthorne did a really good Job of the details, He did an amazing Job blending everything together, from symbols, to characters.

But I didn’t like the fact that he would tell one story or idea one chapter and then tell a completely different story or idea the next. So that one was kind of confusing and aggravating, but as I went on in the story, I found that all the rambling Hawthorne did was in someway connected to the actual storyline. I would recommend the scarlet letter to any High School student, not only is it something you’ll more then likely be forced o read in college, but it helps you to e able to infer and read between the lines in a story, But it also has an amazing story line with a plot twist.

I think the generation coming up would love this book most, because they can more likely relate to the topic of the book. Hawthorne wrote about an issue he knew that would always be an issue in society. Abortion and people always being critical and Judgmental to one another. But it shows our peers, that everyone has a secret, and that not everyone wants people to know. In the scarlet letter, Hawthorne demonstrates the influence that public opinion has on an individual as various characters in the book allow it to consume their lives.

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