Romanticism In The Scarlet Letter And Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance

Better Essays
One of the major ideas that Romantic authors emphasized was reliance on instinct. This idea is present in many Romantic works, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance. By characterizing Pearl as an unrestrained, intuitively intelligent being and contrasting her with Dimmesdale’s hesitant and tortured character, Hawthorne reveals the problems of society suppressing individuals from listening to their instincts, reminding us that we often think and act according to how we think we should think and act rather than trusting our intuition; Emerson makes similar commentary in Self Reliance, employing an assertive and passionate tone. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne explores characters who rely on their instincts and characters who do not; meanwhile, he criticizes civilization for hindering people from following their natural thoughts. The novel takes place in a rigid Puritan town in which individual thought is absent. However, there is one character that contrasts starkly with the others: Pearl. Pearl is characterized as a wild, brilliant child with a mind of her own. Although she is not meant to be a realistic character, she serves to communicate many Romantic ideas. She’s smart - extremely smart - but not in the way the Chillingworth is smart in that he knows a lot from studying books. She just has an intuitive understanding of the truths of the world and the people around her. For example, she discerns Chillingworth’s true
Get Access