How Far Do You Share Hawethorne's View Of The Scarlet Letter As An "Allegorical Romance?"

1799 words - 7 pages

The study of literature is based on interpretation and analysis. With this in mind, I will seek to show my agreement that the Scarlet Letter is an allegorical romance, through my interpretation of some of the author's literary techniques. The plot allegorizes the Puritan concept of society and sin, and Hawethorne portrays this sin adequately through the circumstances that surround the protagonists Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. The strict Puritan society is evident in the portrayal of the characters Governor Bellingham who is representative of the state and Reverend John Wilson, who is representative of the church.In addition to the story line itself, it is also important to have an insight on the author's background and his outlook on life, so that we may better understand the underlying meanings of the text. Nathaniel Hawethorne's ancestors, who were the first settlers in the state of Massachusetts, included two prominent judges, one of whom was active in the persecution of the Quakers in the 1630's and the other in the witch trials. It seems as if he was ashamed of the actions of his ancestors. The word judge is important to the relative concept of judging others in the text. Along with the central theme of unconfessed sin destroying the soul, the act of men judging their fellow beings is also important. For his novels, Hawethorne drew on Puritan orthodox that was thought to examine the individual and collective consciousness under the pressure of anguish and suffering. He sought to dramatize such themes such as sin, guilt and retribution. Introspective depth and an urge to get inside the characters he created mark his writings. Hawethorne became acquainted with the transcendentalists Alcott and Emerson. He was in agreement with some of their theories, but not the majority. He was concerned primarily with the actual world before him. He found a natural use for the past in the explanation it might give of the present, but the present was to him, just as naturally the more important moment. If we look of the past of Hester's life, we see that she was married at a young age to an older and physically deformed man, Roger Chillingworth. The union of these two persons was doomed to failure because youth and beauty was linked with old age and decay. Chillingworth should have had some realization of this in the beginning, but he only admits this towards the ending of the text, when he tells Hester that he has wronged her by choosing a young bride. There was also the occasional hint or prophecy of that to which time through its past and present changes might be tending. Hawethorne was somewhat of a radical, but he saw clearly that this particular present was soon no more sacred than any other moment of the past. And, that to devote oneself to any cause as though it was a final remedy of circumstances, promising rest thereafter, is merely to postpone stagnation for a while. This is representative of Hester's and Arthur's situation. Hawethorne...

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