There comes a point In time when each citizen of the world should ask themselves: Have I ever lied to my parents? Have I ever cheated on a test? Have I ever stolen, coveted, or perhaps committed adultery? All supernatural and religious beliefs and preferences aside. No mortal man can claim to have lived a life free of mistakes. So, no one person can rightfully point their finger in Judgment, when he too has fallen short of perfection.
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne contrasts between outward appearance and Inner secrets using elaborate symbolism, distinct Irony, and whitetail dialogue to develop his argument that hypocrisy is eminent in all societies.
The Scarlet Letter portrays the townspeople as a fierce and Judgmental group symbolizing the hypocritical characteristics in the members of a society. The puritan society of this novel views adultery as a serious and unforgivable crime. The townspeople place social status and high respect for Timescale over the reality of his actions.
Though Hester and Timescale committed the same sin, the priest cannot be moved from his holy position at the pulpit. While Hester Is persecuted and burdened with “ignominy” for the rest of her life. The puritan people claim to stand for the forgiveness of sins, yet they show only conditional forgiveness in their own town, This Is evident In modern society as well. One’s social rank Is largely factored into the consideration of their punishment. So much so that if ones rank is high and prestigious enough, their crime may not even be considered itself.
This is evident in Chapter 1 1 when Timescale means to confess, “Would not the people start up In their seats, by a simultaneous impulse, and tear him down out of the pulpit which he defiled? Not so, indeed! They heard it all, and did but reverence him the more. They title guessed what deadly purport lurked In those self-condemning words. “The godly youth! ” said they among themselves. ” Timescale is so highly extolled that even his confession wasn’t enough to convince the people that he was capable of the same unforgivable sin as Hester.
The puritan people who claim to be Christian are symbols of the hypocritical Pharisees of society. They point flinger at those of low social status more so than those in a higher position simply because the well- respected-much Like Timescale- are supposed to be holy. Hawthorne uses the color black throughout the novel to symbolize Damselfly’s inner turmoil and guilt. After delivering a speech condemning sin, Timescale discovers this black glove as a reminder of his hypocrisy and guilt in front of the pulpit. The sexton then exclaims, “a pure hand needs no glove to cover it! Alluding to Damselfly’s use of black clothing to hide the ‘A’ on his chest. This discovery further drives Timescale to confess his adulterous sin. The glove symbolizes a mask utilized to hide the daunting truth behind Damselfly’s deeds. Much like a black glove hides a sinner’s hand, his black clothes camouflage the tell-tale sign of sin on Timescale. This notion Is hypocritical because Timescale Is supposedly the most pious person on the town, but in contrast, he wears black clothing concealing his internal torture.
This scene, reveals that even in an orthodox community, sin is a toys colors symbolizes Damselfly’s emotional distress which is evident throughout the descriptions of him. In tandem with Damselfly’s dark clothing, The letter ‘A’ is a reoccurring symbol throughout the novel. When Hester and Pearl Join Timescale on the scaffold during his vigil, a meteor illuminates the sky a deep red, leaving the remnants of an ‘A’ in its rail. Later, The meteor is another occurrence of the symbol ‘A’ in the novel.
The meteor casts a red glow upon Hester, Pearl, and Timescale; the red of sin and passion, a symbolic color throughout the Scarlet Letter, making an appearance once more as the three embrace their sin. The townspeople interpret the ‘A’ as meaning ‘angel”, exhibiting a changing opinion on Hester stigma. Hawthorne shifts the meaning of the symbolic letter “A” through out the book to illustrate the hypocrisy of “puritan” society. After she is tried and found guilty of adultery, Hester Prying is balled as an example of sin when she is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her Chest.
The meaning of this letter begins as adulteress, “When the young women- the mother of this child-stood fully revealed before the crowd… On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread… ” (Chapter 2) Hester is forced to wear this letter on her bosom for the rest of her life to be shamed and outcast for her crime. Adultery in a puritan society at this point in time, was considered an unforgivable sin. Hawthorne describes the letter later in the novel with a more positive connotation.
Hester was able to redeem herself in the society by serving in the community, as described in Chapter 15, “[s]such helpfulness was found in her-so much power to do and power to sympathize-that many people refused to interpret the scarlet “A” by it’s original signification. They said that it meant “Able. ” The people actually refused to remember Hester and label her for the crime she had previously committed. They recognized her good works in the community and now respected her enough to agonize her permanent punishment as a symbol of a now “able” woman.
The author shifts the meaning of the letter “A” lastly to symbolize an angel. More specifically on page 258, ” [t]he angel and apostle of the coming must be a woman, Indeed, but lofty, pure and beautiful, and wise, moreover, not through dusky grief, but the ethereal medium of Joy. ” At the end of the novel Hester begins to look at herself as someone beautiful and valuable despite what the townspeople believed and expected of her. On another note, the scarlet letters symbolization of an angel could likely represent the Christian angel.
Where her sin and previous condemnations, guilt and shame, are washed clean and made new in the eyes of Christ. Hester is a fine example of a Christian in this novel portraying the idea that grace is not given by works or acts of lawfulness; but by repentance and acceptance of imperfection. More so, than the pious and pharisaic peoples of her town, always clinging to the law, and condemning those who stray from it – as if the persecutors haven’t strayed away themselves. The scarlet letters final symbolic meaning, angel, is powerful illustration of Christianity.
Where one is not defined by the mistakes and resections, equally, their awards and highest honors; but by the grace and relentless love of God. Hawthorne utilizes distinct irony in order to portray how hypocrisy is within all societies. In the novel, the character Arthur Timescale is referred to as a man of purity, as the Sexton says “A pure hand needs no glove to cover it! “. Irony is conveyed in this text as everyone in the community believes that Timescale is a man of purity, but in secret he has had an affair with Hester Prying.
Even in this pure and utopian-like society that Hawthorne creates, hypocrisy is evident. Timescale reaches to the community that they should be pure and never sin, but hypocrisy reflects in his preaches, helping Hawthorne Justify his argument that hypocrisy exists even in the most “perfect” societies. Hawthorne utilizes irony to display how hypocrisy is in even the most respected people, like Timescale, in every society. Hawthorne also uses ironic names of characters to convey the hypocrisy in the puritan society in the novel.
In the text, Hawthorne purposely names the characters n order to convey irony, such as Pearl, as she is described as a “rich and luxuriant beauty”, but at the same time, an “elf-child”. Hawthorne displays irony as Pearl is supposed to be this goddess-like child with this beautiful name, but instead she is an ‘elf-child”. The use of irony helps convey hypocrisy in all societies as well as the community in the novel, as Hester Prying describes Pearl as her most important fugue in life, but Pearl is the reason for Hester being ostracizes and cast out of the community.
Hawthorne specifically names Roger Chlorinating because of the irony that his name conveys. Chlorinating is regarded as a man of science throughout the society, as he doesn’t believe in the spiritual side of anything, and often referred to s emotionless. With this description, it is ironic as his name is Chlorinating, and he has a “chilling”, or emotionless feeling to his personality. Hawthorne utilizes irony to display hypocrisy with Clownishness’s name because of how Chlorinating didn’t even originally have this name when he ventured to America.
Hawthorne also utilizes Irony in Damselfly’s name, as he is a “dim” man throughout the novel with the secret that he has about his affair with Hester Prying. With the irony of Timescale being such a “dim” man, Hawthorne is able to display the hypocrisy that the puritan society has in the novel, which is all people being extremely Judgmental, even though everyone sins or has their secrets, which then illustrates how Timescale is ‘dim” throughout the novel, as he is frightened by what could happen if people find out about his affair.
Frequently throughout the novel Hawthorne is able to utilize irony, specifically in the names of the characters, to not only display the hypocrisy in the puritan society, but also all societies. Dialogue + Hypocrisy Hawthorne utilizes theatrical dialogue in order to prove that people will change their news based on who the person is, regardless of the action. A woman congregated Nothing the townspeople remarked (about Hester), “It would be greatly for the public should have the handling of such malefactors as this Hester Prying… If the hussy stood up for Judgment before us five… Loud she come off with such a sentence as the worshipful magistrates have awarded? Marry, I trot not! ” Another woman responds with, “People say that the Reverend Master Timescale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation. ” The society of the novel is supposed to be a Puritan community, Inch is known for its religious piety. This conversation between the two women proves Hawthorn’s idea that hypocrisy will exist anywhere because of Jealousy or anger. In Chapter 1 1, Timescale is alone as he thinks of himself and his situation.
He notices how, “[The townspeople] deemed [him] a miracle of holiness,” and ‘fancied him the mouthpiece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom, and rebuke, and love. ” Damselfly’s inner monologue suggests that he half-heartedly told the townspeople Nat he had committed, so that is hypocrisy in itself, but also that the way the society sews Hester versus how the society views Timescale is very hypocritical. The townspeople shun Hester because she is not married, is beautiful, and because she is not as high up on the social status as Timescale.
People praise Timescale because he is the well-known Reverend and most religious one in the community. Dialogue and monologue used by Hawthorne helps to describe his argument that hypocrisy will exist within all societies. In a like manner, Hawthorn’s use of dialogue between Pearl and Timescale also represents hypocrisy. When Timescale, Hester, and Pearl are all standing on the scaffold during “The Minister’s Vigil,” Pearl asks Timescale, “Wilt thou stand here with mother and me, tomorrow noontide? He replies, “Nay; not so, my little Pearl. ” When she asks again, Timescale remarks “… But another time… At the great Judgment day. ” This conversation between the two proves that even the most religious men and women are hypocrites, mainly for their own benefit. Timescale will not stand with them until he dies, even though he knows it is wrong and he cares for them. Again, in the forest, Pearl asks Hester and Timescale, “Doth he love us? Will he go back with us, hand in hand, we here together, into the town? ” Again, the answer is no.
These conversations between Pearl and Timescale represent hypocrisy in that Timescale is this loving, caring man who made a mistake and knows it, but still does not do anything to fix it or help Ninth it. In a monologue by Pearl, she states, “What a strange, sad man is he! In the dark night-time, he calls us to him, and holds thy hand and mine, as when we stood Ninth him on the scaffold yonder! And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss!
And he kisses my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! ” Irish quote from Pearl Justifies that she can see through Damselfly’s hypocritical nature even though she is Just a child. Hawthorn’s use of dialogue between Pearl and Timescale helps to Justify his argument that no matter who you are or who you portray yourself to be, there will always be hypocritical qualities within society and pursues.
Equally important as the above examples, Hawthorn’s utilization of allege between Timescale and Chlorinating prove that there is hypocrisy in all societies and people. Chlorinating is quoted as saying, “Hats thou sought the Inhere thou couldn’t have escaped me,-save on this very scaffold! ” This excerpt conveys to the reader how Chlorinating was scolding Timescale for keeping his secret of his love affair with Hester, even though he himself is not revealing all of his secrets, like his real identity or his drive to gain revenge upon Timescale and Hester. Clownishness’s and Damselfly’s argument in the chapter “The Leech and
His Patient,” Chlorinating asks, “Then why not reveal them [secrets] here? Why should not the guilty ones sooner avail themselves of this unutterable solace? ” Timescale replies, “They mostly do… Why should a wretched man, guilty, we will say, of murder, prefer to keep the dead corpse buried in his own heart, rather than fling it forth at once, and let the universe take care of it! ” Chlorinating responds, meet some men bury their secrets thus… ” This conversation between the two men, each hiding secrets within themselves, proves how in both the most religious and the most adulations men, hypocrisy will stand.
Cite this Portraying of Hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter
Portraying of Hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter. (2018, Feb 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-scarlet-letter/