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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 mention, the setting impacts the evolution of the plot dramatically as certain bold individuals take on the role of romantic heroes, fighting the Puritan Utopia in both a proper and improper manner. Consequently, a recurring theme is continually developed as transcendentalists view man as inherently good and Hawthorne exposes the reality of man’s wickedness. However, Hawthorne's conflicting views of human nature are clearly evident as he both sympathizes and rebukes the transgressions of the Puritan society though each of four main characters.

While venturing to portray an omniscient viewpoint, Hawthorne blurs the lines between relativity and reality regarding sin. Particularly, the author pities Hester Prynne's condition, but goes so far to rationalize and vindicate her sins. Hawthorne emphasizes his similarities to the marked mother, saying “That scarlet letter so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (Hawthorne 37). Accordingly, the author establishes his connection to Hester by expressing his relation to alienation. The author confides that a man like himself with puritan values is not easily inclined to reveal sin that is hidden within his own heart for fear of losing acceptance. In like manner, Hester Prynne is hesitant to relieve her guilt despite her apparent instrument of redemption. However, ironically Hester's ostracization stems from her relative truth; built entirely by her self conscious in order to discipline her own wrongdoings. Lack of forgiveness for her own soul builds contrition and animosity toward her own soul, thus resulting in ambiguity in the aftermath of sin. Additionally, much like Pearl's mother, the composer is ostracized for his individuality concerning nature as he relies on sober analysis of somber circumstances, rather than sensational happenstance as a moral guide. Conversely, he becomes emerged in sentimental effects which alter reality as a result of his obsessive empathy. Likewise, Hester is repeatedly portrayed as a romantic hero on account of her vigorous preservation of her most fundamental ideals. With this intention, he inadvertently misleads the reader to observe her as the righteous protagonist, when in reality her ways can be described as erratic. While Hawthorne claims that his romantic works confront reality rather than evade the absolute truth of man's wickedness, his writings fail to agree. Even in light of this...

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