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Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

1639 words - 7 pages

In my personal reference, Romanticism is a kind of literature from the eighteenth century that put its focus on nature and imaginative ideals. The Romantic Movement was a reaction to the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. This movement consisted of many changes in society during the eighteenth century and it went against the ideals of urban environments that were popping up all around during this time by focussing on nature. The Romantic features that are seen in the book The Scarlet Letter are the ideals of individualism and truth, and not falling into society’s ways and judgements. This book was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in the year 1850. This book was about Hester Prynne, a woman living in Boston, who commits a sin in her Puritan community. Hester is an adulterer, who sleeps with the town’s Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester admits to this adultery and has her child Pearl, but Dimmesdale hides in the shadows to live a life full of guilt and suffering. Little does he know, this suffering will be made worse and worse by Roger Chillingworth, the husband of Hester, who befriends him. Out of all of the characters in this book, Hester Prynne reflects the ideals of Romanticism the best.

The defining characteristics of Hester are her true beauty and radiance. “The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale.” (46) This shows the reader that Hester is not only perfectly beautiful, but she carries herself very lady like and in an elegant manner. This is surprising that Hester carries herself with such grace as she is leaving the prison for her sin, when the people are expecting her to be shameful. “Those / who had before known her...were astonished, and even startled, to perceive / how her beauty shone out.” (46) This shows the reader that Hester is not affected by her Puritan society’s disgrace upon her, and she still allows her beauty to shine bright as she leaves the prison. This comes as a surprise to the people, even the ones who had known her before, that Hester will carry herself with confidence and poise no matter the circumstances.

Physicality reflects Romanticism for Hester Prynne due to the fact that Hawthorne shows acceptance in Hester, while he is describing her with an astounding beauty. The physical attributes of Hester are what gives Hawthorn the acceptance and favor that he has for her character. We know this because in contrast, Arthur, who represents Puritan ideals, is portrayed as weak by Hawthorn. Roger, who is described as ugly and deformed represents the Age of Enlightenment. By setting Arthur and Roger as outcasts and showing so much favor towards the character of Hester, Hawthorn is discriminating against these characters by their physical attributes, which reflects Romanticism.

Hester Prynne’s defining personality characteristics are protective and hardworking. “ Hester bestowed all her / superfluous means in charity, on wretches less miserable than herself…”...

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