Alienated Society in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Throughout history people have been shaped by the society in which they live. Those who accept the imposed rules and regulations tend to embody and reflect many of the characteristics of the society that guides them. However, those who do not conform and refuse the norms of society are often isolated from the contrasting group. Authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne have explored this concept through literature. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, the protagonist Hester Prynne is presented as a figure alienated from society as a direct result of an adulterous affair revealing the harsh, unsavory truth of Puritan culture and providing a means of criticism for Hawthorne.
The novel takes place in seventeenth century Boston, a town dominated by both men and the standards of Puritan practices. Hester Prynne, the protagonist, is punished, marked with a scarlet A, for her affair resulting in pregnancy and consequently the birth of her daughter Pearl. Her lover is later revealed to the reader as Arthur Dimmesdale, the town’s revered minister. Before Hawthorne even introduces these essential characters, he illustrates Hester’s separation and struggle though powerful symbols. The opening chapter presents the symbolism of the prison door and the wild rose bush. The prison door “seemed to never have known a youthful era”, and was referred to as an “ugly edifice” (47). It represents the dark overbearing nature of Puritan society. Hawthorne implies that it is a deeply unsettling, outdated…