Analysis Of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter

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Alex Khosla Peritz, C Block October 31, 2014 A High Price to Pay Everything in life comes with a cost, be it a cost that can be paid with money or a cost that cannot be remedied in the physical world. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne illustrates the high cost of identity and selfhood in society. Through the protagonist Hester Prynne, Hawthorne reveals the societal standards regarding chastity and sin that drive the high cost of identity and selfhood in society and their relation to the physical and metaphysical worlds. In addition, Hawthorne uses the townspeople of Boston, such as the old women in the town, high ranking officials, such as Governor Bellingham, Hester’s former husband, Roger Chillingworth, and her daughter, Pearl to further illustrate the high cost that Hester pays for her identity and selfhood. The cost of identity and selfhood is introduced from the beginning of the novel when the women are standing in front of the prison, waiting for Hester to exit. Hawthorne exhibits the ideas of selfhood when one of the woman castigates to her friends “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead. Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she, the baggage, little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!” (49). Since the women outside the jail view Hester from a perceived moral high ground, they see Hester’s identity as the sinner, as observed when another one of
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