Literature Aspects in “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Genre

The tales in the Scarlet Letter possess several mystery elements. For instance, Hester’s lover is not directly mentioned. Mystery is also experienced in the way Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth undergo punishment. In addition, full information about the Puritan’s colonial attitudes is not given. This leaves the reader thinking.

Setting

The physical setting of the novel represents the Puritan’s beliefs and lack of development. First, we get to know that the prison and the town scaffold are the most important buildings in town as they are frequently used by the Puritans for religious purposes. Second, the Bay Colony of Massachusetts is likened to an island in the midst of wilderness, indicating that the place is undeveloped

Plot Analysis

First, the market place is described. Second, Hester encounters her husband. Third, Reverend Dimmesdale keeps his secret. Fourth, Hester and the Reverend plans to run away. Fifth, the Reverend gives his Election Day summon.

Sixth, the Reverend confesses his sin to the public before he collapses and dies. Finally, Hester finds her way back to Boston. Basically, the novel starts with the initial situation followed by conflict, climax, suspense and conclusion.

Characters

Hester

She is a very powerful woman who is imprisoned for committing adultery. She is ashamed publicly for her adultery act and she is forced to wear a scarlet with the letter ‘A’. While in jail, she embroiders the scarlet letter so as to translate her punishment into a meaningful experience.

Pearl

She is the daughter of Hester, who is born out of adultery. She represents all that Hester gave up when she committed adultery.

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale

He is a likeable minister of the word. He commits adultery with Hester.

Roger Chillingworth

He is a brilliant scholar and husband to Hester. He is also vengeful as he decides to take revenge on the Reverend

Governor Richard Bellingham

He had served as a governor of the Bay colony of Massachusetts for many years.

Reverend John Wilson

He judges Hester for her adultery act at the beginning of the novel.

Mistress Hibbins

She is a sister to Governor Richard Bellingham and a witch.

Themes

The themes discussed in this book include: alienation, revenge, women and femininity, compassion and forgiveness, hypocrisy, guilt and blame, justice and judgment, isolation, the supernatural, fate and free will, and man and the natural world.

Point of View

The narrator pretends to be unbiased, though it is clear that he does not agree with the Puritans as he frequently criticizes the Puritan society.

Style

The writer has used diverse vocabulary in writing the novel. For instance, words like ‘ignominy’ and ‘cogitating’ have been used. The writer also uses long sentences separated by commas in writing the novel. Shmoop University describes the novel’s writing style as ornate, formal, thorny, biblical, shadowy and comma-loving (1).

Persona

The persona in the novel is a third person omniscient narrator.

Images, Metaphors, Schemes

Images, metaphors and schemes that have been used in this novel include: the prison door, Pearl, the scarlet letter, the red mark on Dimmesdale’s chest, the Meteor, the black man, the forest and the wilderness.

National Mythologies or Ideologies

The Puritans were centered on the idea of purity and believed that God was omnipotent and that salvation was predestined (Hawthorne 2). They related worldly success to salvation. Sins were heavily punished in the Puritan society.

Cultural Context and what transfers to today

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s is of great historical significance as it contains many insights that are relevant to contemporary readers. For instance, young people who are deviant and stubborn can relate to the themes of alienation and breaking rules.

In this view, the novel can be explained as a story of a woman who was heavily punished for letting the heart to rule her. Hester’s experiences can stimulate sympathy, Dimmesdale’s hypocrisy can provoke disgust, and Chillingworth’s revenge can arouse anger among readers.

Among the practices in the novel that are experienced in our current society are rules and punishments. However, the extent to which some crimes like adultery should be punished still remains a controversial issue. Technology has also advanced over the years.

Work Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Plain Label Books, 1850.

Shmoop University. “Learning Guides to The Scarlet Letter.”(30 Sep. 2008) Web.

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