A Romantic View Of Hester Prynne Essay

1316 Words6 Pages
Mason Fleischauer
Rahner Collegio
Ms. Slevin and Mr. Arthur
Final Draft
A Romantic View of Hester Prynne
Individualism, emotion and the purity and simplicity of nature are at the foundation of American Romanticism. Essays such as Thoreau’s Walden and Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” call on humans to look inward and avoid conformity in order to find meaning and purpose in life. Nathaniel Hawthorne is also sympathetic to these ideals, but in The Scarlet Letter, he conveys them in the format of a novel where one of his main characters, Hester Prynne, is surrounded by rigid and unforgiving Puritanism in seventeenth century Boston. Through Hester’s struggles, Hawthorne paints a human and personal perspective of Romanticism, but, rather than using The Scarlet Letter simply to echo Thoreau and Emerson, Hawthorne also uses Hester’s story to condemn Puritanism as heartless, unreasonable and unnatural. Hawthorne’s characterization of Hester throughout the novel shows strong sympathy for the specific Romantic ideals of individualism and non-conformity, but Hawthorne also clearly wants the reader to be offended by the extreme and irrational rules of Puritanism. Through Hester, Hawthorne illustrates the words of Emerson, “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist... Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world” (“Self-Reliance”). Hester is first introduced as a young woman who comes to America to start a new life without her husband around the 1650s. These facts
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