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Passion In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1371 words - 5 pages

“Love and hate are two sides of the same coin” (anonymous). While these emotions are thought of as positive and negative respectively, they are really just different forms of passion. Passion drives everyone to make decisions in their life, and love and hate are the most common forms of passion. Everyone experiences love and hate and is prisoner to the reactions that these elicit from them. Emotions simply happen, and while they can be hidden or covered up, they cannot be consciously changed by the victim. People cannot control the emotions they feel, but they often choose to work towards intensifying their hate or love once they know they are experiencing it. Although these emotions are encountered by everyone at one point or another, they are misunderstood by society and usually accepted as opposites. Though love and hate are often thought of as antonyms, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in his novel The Scarlet Letter, examines how they are fundamentally the same because of their intimacy and the power with which they shape people and society.
In the same way as love, hatred requires a certain intimacy between two people. A relationship cannot consist of either love or hate without there first being a close relationship between two individuals. Hawthorne explains that for these emotions to exist, “each, in its utmost development, requires a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge” (Hawthorne 246). In order for either of these emotions to be conceived within an individual, the person must first make an effort to acquire a deep understanding of the other person. It is necessary to have a familiarity with someone else’s character in order to either love or hate them, and it is impossible to become close to someone without putting in any effort. One cannot truly feel love or hate without knowing why they feel the way they feel; knowing a person changes one’s perception of them, and this change of view allows strong emotions to form towards them. In her article “A Critique of Puritan Society”, Alison Easton also acknowledges the fact that “both love and this ‘evil’ involve intimacy” (Easton 117). A particular sympathy is found between two people who have a relationship based upon either love or hate. This knowledge of someone else allows one to form their own opinions on them. The opinions that are developed about this person are what ultimately result in either love or hate. Even after opinions have been formed about them though, their closeness will always exist to keep them bonded together, for better or for worse. The emotions of love or hate cannot be felt without having an intimate (but not necessarily friendly) relationship.
Once a close relationship has been established, the knowledge about another’s life gives one power over the other individual. Once either a love or hate relationship has been created, a position of power comes along with it. Easton also notes how this bond that is forged “gives the...

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