A Comparison Of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter And The Garden Of Eden

932 words - 4 pages

Parallels Between The Scarlet Letter and the Garden of Eden

 
    In Hawthorne's intricately woven tale The Scarlet Letter, his characters create a parallel theme with the Biblical story of Original Sin. By examining the characters and their interactions and insights about each other, one can examine the symbolic parallels with the Garden of Eden.

 

One aspect of the Garden of Eden theme is portrayed by the connection of Hester and Dimmesdale. Hester's story parallels Eve, the original mother of mankind, a woman exiled from the New Garden of Eden due to an unforgivable sin. She is doomed forever to walk outside the garden, no longer able to partake of the fruits of paradise, barred from reentry by seeming "divine intervention." Hester is the temptress of Dimmesdale, offering him the fruit of good and evil which, heretofore, removes all naivete and forces him to walk, tortured, through the world with the knowledge of right, wrong, and the magnitude of his sin seeming to accost him at each new turn of the dim path down which he walks.

 

Dimmesdale is a fallen hero, one of God's chosen, who has fallen from grace in the moment of his original sin. He, also, is excluded form society because once his eyes are opened with the knowledge of good and evil, he cannot remain a true member of the blind, child-like Puritan society. Instead of leading the life of brilliance one would expect to arise from Dimmesdale's profound faith, he is ever tortured by his two-faced appearance. He imagines, "A herd of diabolic shapes grinned and mocked at the pale minister, and beckoned him away with them" (Hawthorne 141). Thus, Dimmesdale provides his own character insight as he examines his divided character and his appearance. He realizes that society is innocent and blind, and that, even while admitting to his guilt, they cannot believe him because they do not see the evil. "He had spoken the very truth, and transformed it into the veriest falsehood" (Hawthorne 1410.

 

Hester's connection with Dimmesdale appears more deeply rooted, just as Eve was Adam's wife in such a connected way because "from Adam's rib there was made a woman" (the Holy Bible). When Dimmesdale and Hester meet again after their sin, their reaction is close to that of Adam and Eve who, having eaten of the fruit, discover their nakedness and hide from the Lord in the shadows of the garden. When Hester meets Dimmesdale on his forest walk, the pair feel an unvoiced need to hide in the shadows, in both a moral and a physical sense. "Without a word more spoken neither he nor she assuming the guidance, but with an unexpressed consent they glided back into the shadow of the woods whence Hester had emerged" (Hawthorne 181). Here they feel they can nearly return to...

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