The Validity Of A Scarlet Letter Analysis

880 words - 4 pages

Numerous interpretations of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter are published, displayed and debated since the original novel’s creation. However, the motif of “speech and silence” is explored by Harold Bloom in his book, Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations. Bloom claims that the characters in the novel view “speech as an act of potency” meaning that authority is established around conversation in the novel (1). In this extended critical writing, Bloom compares the different characters of the family to specifically explain their role in the novel’s dialogue by comparison-and-contrast. He uses a combination of both first and third person speech, and finally he uses a logical and analytical tone to explain the motif’s significance to the story. He succeeds in arguing his point through effective use of points of view and an analytical tone but his argument is weakened by his flawed character association.
Bloom joins Dimmesdale and Chillingworth through the motif of restricted speech, known as the “’secret bond’ not to speak” (2). Bloom begins by explaining each character is intrinsic to this type of communication as each requires Hester to contain their identities in silence. This significant bond brought up by Bloom really emphasizes his perspective on the importance of the motif, restricted speech, in the story as “silence obfuscates the differences between husband and lover” (1). However, Bloom’s major flaw in his character association is when he abruptly joins Hawthorne and Dimmesdale. Both of them conceal their names to an extent. Hawthorne was stated to “be silent, to hide [his] name and history from the text for [his] writing” just as Dimmesdale hides his name. With the introduction of Hawthorne as a foil for Dimmesdale, the focus on character association based on the motif and Hester’s silence changes immediately to bonding by generic identity hiding. This point completely neglects Chillingworth’s presence as the other foil of Dimmesdale. All three men are part of a triumvirate of foils, all bonded together by the way they keep their identities concealed. This lack of analysis weakens Bloom’s argument as there are three foils instead of the significant pair.
Bloom’s use of perspective is his writing is very unique as it uses a mixture of first person and third person narration. For most of the essay Bloom presents himself in the third person point of view for objective explanation but interestingly begins speaking in the first person in an effort to connect with the audience. In the passage where he uses first person he explains that he has “neglected Dimmesdale’s confession” and “neglected to say that the acts of silence… are anticipated… by the author’s own analogous...

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