The Acceptance Of Mankind's Fallen Nature In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1705 words - 7 pages

As detailed in stories, tales, and fables throughout history, mankind has struggled against temptation and sin since the beginning of time. In Christianity, this struggle is characterized as the repercussion of Original Sin and man's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. In his distinguished historical, romance novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne ¬¬¬¬¬uses this biblical base to articulate his own beliefs concerning sin and redemption. Hawthorne propagates many of his beliefs throughout the novel in the experiences and scandalous affair of two of its protagonists, Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and their conflicting emotions towards the religious values of their Puritan community and their individual feelings of repentance and acceptance. Through the contrast of Puritanical beliefs, that redemption is achieved only by the suppression of the passions due to man's fallen nature, to Hawthorne's own beliefs, The Scarlet Letter uses the adulterous sin of Hester and Dimmesdale to asseverate Hawthorne's belief that only the acceptance of man's tendency towards sin can beget personal growth and salvation.
To understand Hawthorne's intention for The Scarlet Letter a Christian understanding of Original Sin and the biblical story of Adam and Eve's fall from grace is necessary. In the book of Genesis, God gave Adam and Eve the order that they were "free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (2:16). However, Eve was tempted and fell from God's grace by plucking from "the tree of knowledge of good and evil", which resulted in her and Adam's expulsion from the Garden, shame, and a consequential, permanent disposition to choose evil. The most important consequence that Hawthorne chooses to reflect upon in his writing is that of mankind's tendency towards sin. Hawthorne distinctly tailors this biblical allusion throughout The Scarlet Letter to coincide with his own personal belief that the success of humanity would proceed from the recognition of man's fallen nature.
Hawthorne chooses predominantly to accentuate this belief throughout The Scarlet Letter by using the Puritan setting for this romance as an example of contrast. While Puritans did acknowledge the existence of sin in the world, their recognition that each person was prone to falling from grace into sin distorted their view on humanity and society. Puritans therefore were staunch believers in crushing evil; demanding conformity, meekness, and repentance in their lifestyles, and structuring their religious communities to ensure salvation, severing all influences and relationships to any sinfulness and sinners, "believ[ing] this alone would elevate themselves from their evil nature … and restore them to God's grace." (Thompson 19). Puritanism, as depicted by Hawthorne in his novel, solely attempts to gain salvation by harshly suppressing and squelching any actions or passions that are the fruit of mankind's...

Find Another Essay On The Acceptance of Mankind's Fallen Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Passion in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1371 words - 5 pages in every relationship is what side the coin will land on. Works Cited Easton, Alison. “A Critique of Puritan Society.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 114-126 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet Classics Edition. New York: New American Library, 1999. Thrailkill, Jane F. “The Doctor and the Minister.” From Studies in

The Nature of the Heart in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1367 words - 5 pages The Nature of the Heart in The Scarlet Letter          Sacrificing of the soul and dedication can lead to suffering for some, but meaning in life for others. This is the main theme of The Scarlet Letter,by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in the seventeenth century in Puritan New England. The main character of the legend is Hester Prynne, who has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister, and they produce Pearl. Hester's

Light and Darkness in the Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

757 words - 3 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is one of the most analyzed and most discussed literary works in American literature and for good reason. Hawthorne's ambiguity and his intense use of symbols have made this work incredibly complex and incredibly bothersome. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses many symbols to give insight into characters and promote his views on society. The scaffold scenes in The Scarlet Letter tell the

The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

894 words - 4 pages The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans constantly look down upon sinners like Hester Prynne, both literally and symbolically. The use of the three scaffold scenes throughout the course of the novel proved to be an effective method in proving this theory and showing how Puritan society differs from that of today?s. In the first scaffold scene, Hester is

The Righteous Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1213 words - 5 pages The Strong and Righteous Hester of The Scarlet Letter     "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us," stated Oliver Wendell Holmes. This eventually proves to be especially true for Hester Prynne, the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne, a fair young maiden whose husband had disappeared two years prior to the opening of the novel, has an affair with

Symbols and Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1243 words - 5 pages Symbols in The Scarlet Letter      In nearly every work of literature, readers can find symbols that represent feelings, thoughts or ideas within the text.  Such symbols can be found in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Hawthorne's book about an affair between a woman named Hester and a minister named Arthur Dimmmesdale is full of feelings of sin, guilt, hate, secrecy, and honesty.  There are many symbols within the novel

Justice Explored in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1034 words - 4 pages Justice Explored in The Scarlet Letter   Nathaniel Hawthorne created themes in The Scarlet Letter just as significant as the obvious ideas pertaining to sin and Puritan society. Roger Chillingworth is a character through which one of these themes resonates, and a character that is often underplayed in analysis. His weakness and path of destruction of himself and others are summed up in one of Chillingworth's last sentences in the

Dealing With Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

732 words - 3 pages realistic in the sense that she didn't have to hide her past and was able to use her guilt to help others. Arthur Dimmesdale's approach to his guilt could almost be considered selfish because he refused to tell the truth to save his name and life. In reviewing the actions of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, it is apparent that the means in which guilt was handled brought either personal prosperity or decay. Ultimately, this was probably Nathaniel Hawthorne's objective when he created differing personalities between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter.

Pearl's Life Without Shame in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1217 words - 5 pages only alive, but married, and happy, and mindful of her mother" (177). Pearl was successful after her outcast childhood, free from the mistakes Hester had made and able to be true to everyone around her. Pearl was a better person because her mother was brave enough to keep them there in the fire and teach her daughter how to lead a life without shame. Works Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

The Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1942 words - 8 pages view this Puritan community so sure of its divine right to judge that it tramples the human heart to shreds in the process.    WORKS  CITED Gross, S., Bradley, S., Beatty, R. C., and Long, E. H.  (eds.).  The Scarlet Letter:  An Authoritative Test, Essays in Criticism, and Scholarship.  New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1988.

Sin and Punishment in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1671 words - 7 pages representation of sin, honesty, and in the end redemption. Her character is extremely complex because her symbolism changes throughout the novel. Her development shows the progression of various themes. Pearl introduces themes of sin, acknowledgment of those sins, and finally acceptance of those sins. Hawthorne introduces her as merely a symbol, but then transforms her into a human of flesh and blood. Pearl’s character is one of the most important characters in because of her complex symbolism and the various functions she provides in the novel. Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.

Similar Essays

Individualism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1065 words - 4 pages Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her

Sin In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2142 words - 9 pages      Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment.  The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed             Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie.  He stands before Hester and the rest of the town and proceeds to give a moving speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

1605 words - 6 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is, at times, a piece that seems intended to drive one beyond any hope of reasoning. Its occasionally overpowering allegorical symbolism or its seemingly eclectic mythology can certainly seem like a purist allegory designed to imbue in one the fear of eternal sin. However, when one takes the time to read beyond the simple story and to realize the true nature of Hawthorne's verbal artistry, it becomes

The Pillory In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

652 words - 3 pages description exemplifies the heinous sense of justice of the Puritans. It reflects and firmly establishes the outrage against human nature of which the Puritans are guilty. All of the ugly and immoral practices of their society are replicated in the pillory, and its very existence is a defiance of that which is good and natural. Through this defiance, justice cannot truly be achieved to the fullest extent.   Works Cited 1.  Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter. The Cornwall Press, inc., Cornwall, New York. 1948.