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The Truth Shall Set You Free: The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorn

1024 words - 5 pages

Every action reaps its consequences. This veracity is revealed in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, published by Ticknor, Reed, and Fields in 1850. Categorized into the genre of romance, The Scarlet Letter has a solemn, dark, mysterious, and almost eerie mood. The historical novel is set in the strict Puritan society of seventeenth century Boston, Massachusetts. When the book begins, the past action of adultery has already been committed. The story then follows the characters involved in the dirty deed and skillfully details their responses to the consequences.

The characters Hawthorne develops are deep, unique, and difficult to genuinely understand. Young, tall, and beautiful ...view middle of the document...

Beginning when Hester is publicly shamed on a scaffold, the conflict is summarized in a minister’s interrogation of her: who was her partner in her sinful deed? As Hester remains stubbornly yet faithfully silent, her estranged husband, who had been missing and thought dead for the past two years, appears and watches with shock. Unforgivingly, Chillingworth, her husband, vows to find this mysterious man and unleash his revenge. Throughout the next few chapters, the reader learns that the guilty man is indeed Dimmesdale. Hawthorne elaborates on Hester and Dimmesdale’s profound inner mental turmoil. These extensive, complex conflicts build together for a single crowning resolution.

The manner in which the book concludes reveals Hawthorne’s themes. Under the dark, shielding cover of night, Hester and Pearl meet Dimmesdale in an almost fantastical forest. Planning an escape from Boston, Dimmesdale promises to flee to Europe with Hester and Pearl to live unashamedly, after he delivers his momentous Election Day sermon. When their plot is finalized, the gloomy mood of the book disappears, and Hester and Dimmesdale find joy once again. Dimmesdale’s health even seems to improve. Passionately, Dimmesdale gives his excellent and moving speech, which he had rewritten after his reunion with Hester in the forest. As he concludes, he precipitately falls sick and in desperation orders Hester and Pearl to climb the uncomfortably familiar scaffold. Weak, he joins them. The story climaxes as Dimmesdale fervently declares in front of the civilians of Boston that he was Hester’s partner in adultery and dramatically tears open his shirt, revealing a mysterious, gory mark in his skin, similar to Hester’s scarlet letter. With fire still in his eyes, he collapses and dies. Chillingworth, who has been watching the whole marvel, falls to his knees crying, “Thou hast escaped me!” In the epilogue, Hawthorne tells the reader that Chillingworth disappears and dies within a year. Although Dimmesdale is dead, Hester and Pearl still move to Europe. While Hawthorne keeps the rest unclear, he hints that Pearl lives a prosperous and happy life. Hester later returns to Boston, and she is...

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