Moral Law Vs Natural Law In The Scarlet Letter

1844 words - 7 pages

Moral Law Vs. Natural Law "At the dramatic center of The Scarlet Letter is the idea of the awesomeness and inescapability of the Moral Law, to which all else is finally submitted," (Levy 384).Assuming that Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter exploring the relationship between Moral law and Natural law, he chooses the moral laws to be absolute. Using definitions of nature and character provided by Seymour Katz applied to the terms natural law and moral law allow an extension of Leo Levy's claim that Moral laws are supreme. Moral law is an internalization of normalizing aspects of society it, "is acquired in time through nurture, education, and social experience. The older the individual the more fixed and stable is his character, and the less likely he is to act outside of the principles of his society or his role," (Katz 5). The natural law is being in a condition where society cannot impose any rules or laws, "It is undirected impulse or potential energy which the individual will expend and express in various ways in the course of his life," (4). By applying the definitions of natural law and moral law to the way Hawthorne reveals the truth in the novel and to the development of the character Pearl, Hawthorne proves that moral law is the dominant form of law in The Scarlet Letter.In the forest natural laws should be supreme. Here, the black man or devil makes his home, Mistress Hibbons goes to perform her witchcraft, and Hester and Dimmesdale commit their adultery (Hawthorne 144-145). Moral law forbids each of these three things. Only in the forest, a place where moral law does not apply, can any of these things happen. From a very early age people are taught by the moral laws that the forest contains evil."But she fancied me asleep when she was talking of it. She said that a thousand and a thousand people had met him here, and had written in his book, and have his mark on them. And that ugly-tempered lady, Old Mistress Hibbons, was one. And, mother, the old dame said that this scarlet letter was the Black Man's mark on thee, and that it glows like a red flame when thou meetest him at midnight, here in the dark wood." (126) Pearl, at the age of seven, already understands the forest contains evil. This normalizing aspect of moral law teaches the society that the representation of natural law, the forest, is evil. Thus, the moral laws quickly gain an advantage over the natural, before an individual is old enough to form their own opinion on the matter.Another way the moral law proves to be supreme is when examining another theme in the text, hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is so wide spread, even the Reverend Dimmesdale, introduced possessing an, "eloquence and religious fervor [having] already given the earnest of high eminence in his profession," (48). This quality combined with a, "dewy purity of thought, which, as many people said, affected them like the speech of an angel," (48) caused Dimmesdale to be perceived as a model of purity and godliness for...

Find Another Essay On Moral Law Vs Natural Law In The Scarlet Letter

Amistad: Natural Law vs. Positive Law

993 words - 4 pages Throughout the movie “Amistad,” directed by Steven Spielberg, conflict between Natural Law and Positive Law appears to be an underlying theme. The story is of a group of African slaves that effected a mutiny on their slave ship. After killing many Spaniards, the African slaves were then captured and put on trial. The story is based on a historical trial which took place in the United States during the years of 1939-1940. This trial

The Natural Law Theory Essay

718 words - 3 pages classical thinkers were the first to define the natural law. Heraclitus, in the sixth century BC, specified one the components by saying, *for all human laws are nourished by one, the divine.* This meant that a divine power determined a logic and gave to all humans. (Microsoft Encarta) This definition put this law into direct conflict with positive laws. Aristotle elaborated on the word natural in relation to law. He said that a natural law

Natural law in the Gideon Case

1261 words - 5 pages Florida State Supreme Court but since the case raised an important issue it went to the US Supreme Court for an answer. In order to make this colossal decision they had to look at different theories such as natural law and legal realism in order to make a right verdict. In the case of Gideon v Wainwright, natural law was the excellent theory to use by the Justices to reach their verdict to overturn the Betts rule because the fundamental value of a

Natural Law

695 words - 3 pages Natural Law                  The School of Natural Law Philosophy was an intellectual group of philosophers. They developed new ways of thinking about religion and government. Natural law was based on moral principles, but the overall outlook changed with the times.                  John Locke was a great philosopher from the middle of the 17th century. He was a primary contributor to the new ideas concerning natural

Dimmesdale’s Moral Tragedy in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1466 words - 6 pages Elena Megaludis Mr. Ochtun Honors English 11 1 October 2011 Dimmesdale’s Moral Tragedy The Ten Commandments plainly say you, "'Shall not commit adultery.” In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s historical story, The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, bares the most brutal effects of such sin. This is due to several reasons. The most observable reason for his eventual breakdown is the fact that he keeps his sin a secret. Arthur Dimmesdale's sin was

Natural Law in "Veritatis Splendor"

1224 words - 5 pages For several decades many have been confused about the place of natural law in moral theology. In its opening pages Veritatis Splendor laments the rejection of traditional natural law morality by those who dissent from Church teaching, by those who think the demands of freedom supersede the demands of the law. Indeed, even some of those who have been faithful to Church teaching have thought that with the Christocentric focus of Vatican II, Pope

Puritan Law as Hawthorne Views it What is Hawthorn trying to say about puritan law? The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorn

769 words - 3 pages . Both sides to this have a valid point, which is why there is a conflict between the two laws, yet in The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans still persecute Hester and disobey God's will of natural law to rule supreme.Whether it is a specific sin or sin itself, conflicts arise between the Puritans and their laws as Hawthorne portrays them and the laws of nature and humans. Now that the "what" is known, perhaps the "why" can be answered as well. Hawthorne

Natural Law and Civil Law

963 words - 4 pages Leviathan as bearer of supreme authority and nationals who posses certain inalienable rights. We should draw attention to Hobbes’ reasoning about natural law and civil or positive law. According to Hobbes they both match with scope, form and content. However, natural law, which is impartial, equitable, legitimate, and moral in natural state is not the law itself; it just disposes people to peace, mercy, and obedience. Natural law is the laws

Law Enforcement During Natural Disasters in the United States

2824 words - 11 pages Law Enforcement During Natural Disasters in the United States All of us are aware that law enforcement plays a big role in our society. During the natural disasters, law enforcement becomes even more important and many people begin to depend on them. It is obvious that natural disasters tend to create chaos, mess, disorganization and their role is to calm people down. They are the ones who are helping victims with their fears, concerns, and

Moral Law v. Divine Law in Sophocles' Antigone

1427 words - 6 pages Nomos versus Physis in Sophocles' AntigoneSophocles' dramatic masterpiece Antigone centers around the conflict between Antigone and Creon on many different levels, all of which contribute to the philosophical war between the two characters. Most of the action revolves around Antigone and her beliefs. One of the most notable conflicts is that of mortal duties opposing divine duties, or more clearly, state law (nomos) versus moral law (physis

Natural v. Positive Law

1154 words - 5 pages it is often that the moral rule can not be changed in the same way as the legal rule can. According to Hart and other positivist, there is not necessary logical connection between the content of law and morality. The existence of legal rights is lacking of any moral justification. Positive law and Natural law both have the same ultimate goal to grant each individual with what he or she deems as the greatest happiness. It is the means by which

Similar Essays

State Law Vs Moral Law Essay

728 words - 3 pages State Law Vs. Moral Law If someones best friend was dying and the only medicine to save them is illegal, would it be okay to let them have it even though its breaking state law? State law versus moral law has always been a big argument on which side to choose if it comes down to doing what someone believes in or what the state says is right. The cause and effect of characters’ choices on their life results from their strong moral or state

The Scarlett Letter: Civil And Natural Law

1220 words - 5 pages Failure to respect God's standards often roots obscurity in recognizing one's own sins. For this reason, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to maintain a dark and truthful view of mankind, his romantic historical fiction novel; The Scarlet Letter reveals both the author and man's common struggle to discern the difference between Civil and Natural Law, the means by which they deceive themselves, justify their actions, and seek redemption. Not to

Investigation Of Natural Moral Law Essay

865 words - 3 pages Investigation of Natural Moral Law The roots natural law can be found in the ancient Greek and Roman world. In this essay Thomas Aquinas and moral law theory will be highlighted. St Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), was an important Christian philosopher and theologian who’s ethical theory is absolutist and deontological, which means that it is focused on the ethicacy of actions. In his work, summa theologica, Aquinas

Natural Law Vs. Progressivism Essay

1668 words - 7 pages being (Levin 2009, 24). Natural law (articulated best by John Locke) promotes the idea that humans are a spiritual being who are bound to a transcendent moral order established by Divine Providence. In other words, God’s laws of humanity, justice, and equity are supreme to any law man himself can make. Edmund Burke, a political philosopher during the time of the French Revolution, says that this moral order can be found through observation