The Scarlet Letter Essays

Ignominy in the Puritan Community

The title of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter refers to the literal symbol of ignominy that Hester Prynne’s community forces her to wear as a reminder of her sin. Though the word “ignominy” is used in sympathetic passages that describe Hester Prynne’s disgrace as an adulteress and out-of-wedlock mother, its use at the same time reveals an extremely critical description of Hester’s community; Hawthorne finds that what is truly disgraceful is the way the community relishes and exploits the opportunity…

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The Scarlet Letter Study Guide Questions

Chapter 1 “The Prison Door” 1. What colony is the setting for the novel? Boston Massachusetts 2. Where in the colony does the opening chapter take place? In the jail 3. For what 2 “practical necessities” did the new colony set aside land? A cemetery and a prison. 4. Who is Anne Hutchinson? How does Hawthorne feel about her? Anne Hutchinson was a religious but freewheeling woman who disagreed with Puritanical teachings, and as a result she was imprisoned in…

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The Theme of Sin and Redemption in ‘the Scarlet Letter’

‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the novel. She is a married woman living in Boston. She commits the sin of adultery and her partner in sin is Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne is deeply sinned and she is guilty of adultery. However, the public humiliation she faces because of her confessed sin does not destroy her inward spirit but rather redeems her from her sin. As a result of her repentance,…

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Scarlet Letter Character Analysis

1. “God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonored bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven!” Page 92 2. “If the children gathered about her, as they sometimes did, Pearl would grow positively terrible in her puny wrath, snatching up stones to fling at them, with shrill, incoherent…

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Mysterious Death of Dimmesdale

One could say that Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is poisoned, or that he merely died of guilty conscience. In the Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Dimmesdale commits adultery with Hester Prynne, and so she bears a child. Dimmesdale does not admit his sin to the people in the community. Keeping the sin a secret for as long as he does creates guilt and suffering which manifests in him until his death. Chillingworth is Hester’s husband who is symbolic of a…

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Scarlet Letter Paper

Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most widely known authors to use symbols in American literature. In the book, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, he uses symbols to represent an idea. An example of this would be religious, moral, or philosophical concept or value. An allegory in literature is a story where characters, objects, and events have a hidden meaning and are used to present some universal lesson. Hawthorne demonstrates this type of symbolism in the book because the…

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Scarlet Letter Role of Occult

The Black man’s role and effect on the scarlet letters characters The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes but a prominent theme of the entire book is the theme of the occult and the Black man, and also known as Satan. Throughout the book Hester thinks that the black man is working his thoughts and actions into her life. The black man also is in the lives of others around her such as Dimmesdale, Mistress Hibbons, and especially her daughter…

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The Scarlet Letter Intro

In the 16th century, Puritans immigrated to America from Great Britain in order to escape religious persecution, and by the mid 17th century they had erected a well established society based on their theological beliefs. The Puritan religion was one of austerity and geared towards spiritual devotion rather than worldly possessions. Puritans followed rigid laws which rarely changed with time. They also had little tolerance for anyone who broke these laws. Individuals who did violate these laws however, faced punishment…

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The Scarlet Letter_ Hester Prynne and Feminism

Female inferiority is prevalent in Puritan society. However, in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne exemplifies the ethics, independence, and beauty that defy typical feminine standards in the 17th century. Thus, Hester becomes a feminist champion in the novel through her exceptional characteristics and her support for Arthur Dimmesdale. To begin, Hester Prynne’s good looks, talent, and untainted principles separate her from ordinary Puritans and elevates her status in the narrative. First and foremost, her beauty separates her…

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The Evolution of Hester’s Scarlet Letter

In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, the protagonist, Hester Prynne, is forced to publically wear her sin on her sleeve. She committed adultery, which was a sin that was highly chastised by the Puritan society. The Scarlet Letter that Hester wore first symbolized the burden and humiliation that accompanied the sin. Throughout the novel however, the meaning of the letter changed to parallel Hester’s own development into a strong, independent woman. The letter starts out as a symbol of shame….

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The Chilling Inner Nature of Roger Chillingworth

In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne published in 1850, Hester Prynne, a young woman living among the rigid, cold, and highly religious society of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid 1600’s, is ostracized and subject to a life of public shaming following an adulterous affair with a man who at this point in the story remains unidentified. In the beginning of the story, Hester’s husband, who now goes by the name of Roger Chillingworth, whom…

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Words and Names for the Scarlet Letter

1. “‘But she—the naughty baggage—little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!’” (49) CM: Like many Puritan women in Boston, this woman illustrates the hate they all have for Hester Prynne, by declaring that Hester is unmoved by her sin. 2. “‘Ah, but,” interposed, more softly, a young wife, holding a child by the hand, “let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.’” (49) CM:…

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The Scarlet Letter_ an Exploration of the Theme of Sin

the Victorian era The 17th century was the century which lasted in England from January 1, 1601 to December 31, 1700 in the Gregorian calendar. The 17th century falls into the Early Modern period of Europe and in that continent was characterized by the Dutch Golden Age, the Baroque cultural movement, the French Grand Siècle dominated by Louis XIV, the Scientific Revolution, and The General Crisis. This last is characterized in Europe most notably by the Thirty Years’ War, the…

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s as Anti Transcendentalist

Nathaniel Hawthorne an American romantic writer, whose literature is known for its Anti-Transcendentalism, wrote Young Goodman Brown and The Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a writer during the American Romantics, where the majority of writing is focused on nature, supernatural elements; one’s psychology and the criticism of society’s “norm”. Nathaniel is Hawthorne known for his notorious Anti-Transcendentalist literature. Anti-Transcendentalism ideals are about one’s evil and inner and sinful nature, where everyone is born evil and no matter what, and that…

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The Scarlet Letter Theme_ Revenge

Revenge is the defining theme in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. It is the driving force behind the actions of the main antagonist Roger Chillingworth. In the novel his obsession for revenge is seen as an uncontrollable desire that consumes the character. Chillingworth told his wife, Hester Prynne, that he would find the adulterer and have him punished. He wanted Hester’s partner to suffer the same humiliation she had to endure. Chillingworth wanted him to stand on the scaffold for…

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