Analysis Of Mark Van Doren's The Scarlet Letter

851 WordsSep 26, 20174 Pages
“The Scarlet Letter” is a modern classic of American literature written about controversy and published with controversy. In his analysis, Mark Van Doren criticizes Hawthorne by writing, “never before has Hawthorne dealt with stuff so solid; and never again will he be so able or content to let his people determine his plot.” In regards to “The Scarlet Letter,” Van Doren describes the novel as “brief though it is and barren of incident though is seems, is packed with pictures and events; real at the center, it is rich at every portion of its surface. . .the situation of the principals is indeed concrete.” Hawthorne writes the story about a woman, Hester Prynne, in the old colony, who “Puritan magistrates condemn her to stand for hours on…show more content…
. .fasten this fear upon us – it could exist in us only if we loved her, too – but he also has known how to make Chillingworth’s words untrue.” Chillingworth chastises Hester and Arthur’s affair and says “this magnificent woman has lived for nothing; for a few days of love, and then for dreary years of less indeed than nothing.” Van Doren suggests that, we as readers know this to be untrue and it comes about because we are so convinced of Hester’s nature and the dimension of her character. Van Doren also references Hawthorne’s view of the church. Hawthorne shares his views of the Puritan belief and goes beyond the religious aspects to ensure an understanding of the “moral agony” Hester and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale feel throughout the story. Hester “makes more show that she needs to make of the letter on her bosom, the symbol she insists upon adorning with such ‘wild and picturesque peculiarity’. . .her sudden revelation that through years of loneliness she has not consented to let her soul be killed.” Hawthorne relays his values to the reader through the understanding of the need for secrecy, the feeling of shame, and the importance of the truth. Hawthorne understands these premises and portrays his beliefs through Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and his importance in the church. With the “sin for him, for Hester, and for the people who punish her is equally a solemn fact, a problem for which there is no solution in life. There was

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