This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Scarlet Letter Essay

1334 words - 6 pages

Throughout history people have been shaped by the society in which they live. Those who accept the imposed rules and regulations tend to embody and reflect many of the characteristics of the society that guides them. However, those who do not conform and refuse the norms of society are often isolated from the contrasting group. Authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne have explored this concept through literature. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, the protagonist Hester Prynne is presented as a figure alienated from society as a direct result of an adulterous affair revealing the harsh, unsavory truth of Puritan culture and providing a means of criticism for Hawthorne.
The novel takes place in ...view middle of the document...

Hester is a light in the darkness that has overcome oppression. She finds a way to grow personally despite the restrictions society has placed on her.
While Hester’s sin is the initial cause of her alienation, Puritanical beliefs perpetuate the void between Hester and community. The puritans believed man was incapable of any goodness without God. Sinners were rejected by both church and state, as Puritan colonies were founded on strict moral principles hoping to serve as a perfectly holy template for surrounding areas. David Sorrels comments that “Puritans were preoccupied with punishment and death”. A jarring practice of the Puritan community was to make a public spectacle of sin as deterrent for others who may be tempted commit similar evils. Publicized sin led to everlasting shame; one was never able to regain full redemption (Sorrels). Hester’s sin separates her from society permanently. “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it” (84). Even years after her offense, she is still unable to forge a connection with other townspeople. Every encounter with them refreshes her isolation. The letter is a constant reminder of her sin; some people are never able to see past the mark meant to shame her. Gossip from women in the town increase her separation from the town making it difficult for her to form relationships.
Hester Prynne is publicly shamed and humiliated upon a scaffold. Hester’s position on the elevated platform physically separates her from others just as her sin separates her socially, “taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (54). Associating with someone who had been shamed upon it would have “made others look bad” by association ( The scaffold is located in the center of town, showing its prevalence in the community. Communal shaming was a common demoralizing practice in this time period. Parents attend with their children to look upon the castigation of what they viewed as a terrible sinner. Hawthorne criticizes this practice commenting that the children “too young to comprehend wherefore this woman should be shut out from the sphere of human charities” still express the same disdain that their parents have (81). Society has even twisted children to condemn what they cannot understand. This highlights the blind judgment that often overcomes the minds of those focusing on the sin of others.
Additionally, Hester refuses to reveal the name of her lover while on the scaffold. She stands alone and unjustly bears the sin of the minister out of selfless love. Those witnessing the ignominy of Hester Prynne experience a detrimental change internally. Her sins seem much greater than their own; therefore, her shame is used as a means to forget about their own sins. “If truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a...

Find Another Essay On The Scarlet Letter essay

The Scarlet Letter Essay

1009 words - 5 pages The symbol of the scaffold evolves in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet letter is build around the symbolic scaffold. The main characters transform the scaffold from the exposition to resolution. Next the traits of the scaffold itself deteriorate throughout the novel. Finally, the scaffold is applied symbolically throughout Hawthorne’s novel. The scaffold transforms throughout the book

The Scarlet Letter essay

1114 words - 5 pages Shirley Chisholm said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’” Chisholm’s quote perfectly demonstrates Puritan society which, as any society, is centered on labels and stereotypes with almost everybody being shoved into a group and having their fate decided based upon their stereotype. In The Scarlet Letter, while the local village views Hester through the Puritan image that

The Scarlet Letter Essay

1401 words - 6 pages "In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it (84)." What is found evident in this quote concerning Hester Prynne, Hawthorne’s main protagonist, in The Scarlet Letter is that while she suffers so on the opening scaffold scene, it is but human nature to bless the individual with

The Scarlet Letter Essay

1400 words - 6 pages the door opens. In steps the bulk of the head prison guard. “Get up” he shouts, “Outside, let’s move.” Stepping outside in the first light seen in months the man covers his eyes because of the brightness. The guard gives a shove as he says, “Let’s move.” The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is filled with symbolic elements. Three very important symbols are the imposing scaffold, alternating letter ‘A’ and the characters themselves Hester

"The Scarlet Letter" Persuasive Essay

666 words - 3 pages In "The Scarlet Letter", Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the hypocrisy of the Puritan society of the seventeenth century with the story of the downfall and redemption of Hester Prynne. The hypocritical Puritan society punishes Hester for committing adultery. However, in her own mind, she does not see her actions as a sin because she acts out of love. Furthermore, she redeems herself by turning her offense into a virtue. Through the tale of Hester

The Scarlet Letter Analytical Essay

1113 words - 5 pages The Scarlet Letter Analytical Essay Along with the other elements, the setting plays a major role in the furthering of the plot in almost every book. Especially in The Scarlet Letter, there are many factors that go into the setting of the book. The setting and the correlation of the weather to the mood of the characters plays a prominent role in the furthering of the plot; the actual time period and setting of the story and the specific

The Scarlet Letter Theme Essay

794 words - 3 pages In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlett Letter Hester Prynne faces myriad obstacles due to harsh Puritan punishment which helped craft her into a stronger woman. She was given a scarlet letter from the community to alienate her from the rest society. The society built by the Puritans, in settling the New World, was stern and repressive, no place for a vibrant, healthy woman with a self esteem that could not be destroyed by a constant public

The Scarlet Letter Analytical Essay

787 words - 4 pages A person’s reaction to sin can be more damaging than sin itself depending on how they react. The Scarlet Letter clearly integrates the idea that how a person handles sin determines the outcome of their character. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth all have different reactions to sin throughout the Scarlet Letter and this affects their character and their outcome. Hester throughout the Scarlet Letter has a variety of reactions to sin. At

Essay on "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne

1356 words - 5 pages In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne's scarlet token liberates her more than it punishes her. First of all, Hester's soul is freed by her admission of her crime; by enduring her earthly punishment, Hester is assured of a place in the heavens. Also, though her appearance is much hampered by the scarlet letter, her mind is freed by it, that an intellectual passion rises from her isolation and suffering. Finally, it defines

The Scarlet Letter Thematic Analysis Essay

855 words - 4 pages ATTENTION-GRABBER The Scarlet Letter is written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It takes place in the middle of the sixteenth century but was written in the eighteenth century. Hawthorne tells the story through his point of view about the scarlet letter he finds years before writing the story. When the story begins, Hester is being tried for the sin she committed while holding a baby. She commits adultery and receives a punishment of wearing the letter

Scarlet Letter Essay

1416 words - 6 pages “Burn the witch!” has been a condemning cry for centuries, but those flames are not always real. Words, looks, and guilt can burn a sinner far more effectively than the pyre ever could, as evidenced by the torments inflicted on the sinners in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Each of the characters was burned in a different way, just as they represent different types of sin. Hester Prynne, the adulteress, represents open

Similar Essays

The Scarlet Letter Essay 1257 Words

1257 words - 6 pages Hester Prynne has committed a crime that is hard to Discussdiscuss. She has started a huge scandal in the small community of from which she comes from. She committed the crime of adultery. She was tried and sentenced to wear the scarlet letter “A” Which which stands for adultery. She is forced to be publicly shamed for what she has done. The scarlet letter “A” is aan important symbol in this story . It symbolizes a different thing something

The Scarlet Letter Essay 1521 Words

1521 words - 7 pages Adulteress, banished, condemned…words that flash across the minds of Boston citizens when viewing the scarlet letter ‘A’ that is afixed to Hester Prynne in the 17th century of Nathaniel Hawtorne’s novel. Is it a symbol worthy of scorn and judgment? In their hypocritical eyes, there is no doubt about that. A fallen woman deserves that shame she brings upon herself. Symbolism is a common literary element that is found repeatedly in The Scarlet

The Scarlet Letter Essay 1288 Words

1288 words - 6 pages not!”(p. 78, paragraph 2) said one of the hypocritical old women. This was the judgment that poor Hester Prynne had to stand in front of… Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is one of the most well-recognized books of all time. It has become standard reading material in English classes across the country, and it is not hard to see why. Most of the book is composed of different symbols, or concrete objects that represent something more than

The Scarlet Letter Essay 1005 Words

1005 words - 5 pages ) The reoccurring deteriorating scaffold Pearl Prynne, and the rosebush and ugly weeds are reoccurring symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” Hawthorne’s characters symbolically transform the scaffold from beginning to end of the novel. Next the three scaffold scenes physically deteriorate with an underlying symbolic tone. Finally, the symbolic use of the scaffold throughout The Scarlet Letter leaves a lasting impression of its