The setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet letter” is crucial to the understanding of the event that takes place in the story. The setting of the story is in Salem, Massachusetts during the Puritan era. During the Puritan era, adultery was taken as a very serious sin, and this is what Hester and Dimmesdale committ with each other. Because of the sin, their lives change, Hester has to walk around in public with a Scarlet Letter “A” which stands for adultery, and she is constantly being tortured and is thought of as less than a person. Dimmesdale walks around with his sin kept as secret, because he never admits his sin, his mental state is changing, and the sin degrades his well-being. Chillingworth
Set in seventeenth century Boston, The Scarlet Letter is a riveting tale about the life of an adulteress in the Puritan culture. The Scarlet Letter is written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The century in which the book takes place has much to do with the way Hester Prynne and her daughter, Pearl, are treated and judged by the townspeople. People in that time did not seem to treat an adulteress and the offspring of the affair as human beings. Hester, Pearl, and Arthur Dimmesdale, the preacher, are the main characters in the story. The major theme in this story could almost be perceived as karma. All darkness must come into light, and all sin will soon be known.
The Scarlet Letter is a well known novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel is composed and written in Salem and Concord, as well as Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1840's. The narrator of the novel is in an omniscent state, meaning he knows more about the characters than the characters know about themselves. Although the narrartor is omniscent, he also makes sure to include his ideas and opinions on situations, making him also greatly subjective. Being subjective, as well as omniscent, historical fiction along with a story displaying constant symbolism is evident.
Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the ideology of Puritan society in the novel the Scarlet Letter; however reader also get to witness his characters being an illustration of hypocrisy and victims to their own guilt. In the Scarlet Letter, as in many of Hawthorne’s shorter works, he makes profuse use of the Puritan past: its odd exclusionary belief, its harsh code of ruling, its concern with sex and witchcraft. The Scarlet Letter is a story that is embellished but yet simple. Many readers may view this novel as a soap opera due to the way Hawthorne conveys this Puritan society’s sense of strictness and inability to express true emotion along with the secrecy and how deceiving the characters are being. As the story unfolds the main character Hester Prynne is bounded in marriage at an early age. She engages in an adulterous affair with an unknown member of their small village. Hester soon becomes pregnant and with her husband’s absence the chances of this child belonging to her husband are slim. The towns’ people know that she has committed a sin and imprisons her for her crime.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, in his bold novel, The Scarlet Letter tackles a variety of themes that include: sin, guilt, redemption, postfeminism, and organized religion's abuse of power. Hawthorne spoke in a somber and grim tone, designed to arouse a sense of suspense for his readers. The audience in which he was addressing would have been conservative Christians and women suffragettes, all of whom reflected the ideologies during this time period. By instilling clever diction, Hawthorne exposes hypocrisy in Puritanism and objects against the religion's superfluous punishments; which force individuals to endure unnecessary and extreme suffering.
The women of the town don’t believe that Hester Prynne is being punished enough for her crime, “ ‘The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful over much - that is a truth,’... ‘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 naughty baggage - little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown!’ ” (44-45). This quote proves the idea that the Puritans are an unforgiving people. At this point in the text, Hester Prynne’s suffering is only just beginning. She at first doesn’t realize the severity of what she will endure in living through her situation. Adultery was a sin punishable by death and Hester was just mindful that it hadn’t come to that. The first step of Hester’s suffering was accepting the fact that her sin was about to change her life. “Could it be true? She clutched the child so fiercely to her breast, that it set forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real. Yes! - these were her realities, - all else had vanished!” (51) This is one example of the sin, knowledge and human condition in the sense that, like Adam and Eve, Hester Prynne was expelled from having an easy life. The Scarlet Letter that Hester Prynne was destined
In the book The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne remarks on his thoughts of his Puritan ancestors’ in his introduction and wording throughout the novel. In his introduction, he sets the tone on Puritanism by remarking, “” In the story itself, Hawthorne writes
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a man who was both plagued and absorbed by the legacy of the Puritans in New England. He was related to John Hathorne, a Puritan judge during the infamous Salem Witch trials of 1692. In The Scarlet Letter, his fictional account of mid-17th century Boston presents an opportunity to examine different themes commonly associated with Puritans. Particularly the nature of sin, personal identity and the repression of natural urges are themes that appear repeatedly through the novel. While his account of this time period may not be completely historically accurate, it is indicative of the persistent thematic influence of Puritan culture on American and New England society.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written amidst the 1800’s. Hawthorne was a famous American author during that time frame. He is a relative to a judge from the Salem Witch Trials, which was his Great-Great Grandfather John Hathorne. Hathorne was the only judge who did not express atonement for his crimes, which led people to dislike all the Hathorne’s. This sparked Nathaniel Hawthorne's interest in the Puritan times, which resulted in the Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne delineates Puritan standards religiously and culturally in an outstanding way. He was also an Anti-Transcendentalist which means that he believed that all humans were evil. In his novel, the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbols of the scarlet letter, Reverend Dimmesdale, and burrs to add onto the overall theme of guilt.
Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter in an era commonly referred to as “The Transcendentalist Movement” (“The Scarlet Letter”). “Transcendentalism a reaction against the rationalism of the previous century and the religious orthodoxy of Calvinist New England, it stressed the romantic tenets of mysticism, idealism, and individualism” (“The Scarlet Letter”). It sees God as an important part of a person and the world, God was not a “harsh distant figure” (“The Scarlet Letter”). Simultaneously, Puritan values and ideas also played a major role in shaping The Scarlet Letter. “The Puritans are all alike and, taking themselves for the standard, see all difference and variety as unnatural, bad” (Baym 53). That is, anything out of the norm, Puritans will instantaneously oppose it and disassociate themselves from it. “Because they are dedicated to forms, rules, laws, [and] structures, the Puritans have no tolerance for secrets: they take people as purely public beings, and they hate and fear anything
The Scarlet Letter was also one of the first mass-produced books in America. The book was written several years after the Second Great Awakening itself talks about a man’s relationship to himself but as well as to God. Hawthorne novel is set in a deeply religious time, therefore the novels language contains deeply religious undertones. Literary critics admired Hawthorne great piece of literature but religious leaders took it as an offense to Christianity and taught Nathaniel didn’t understand the real concept of Christianity. Adultery was a sensitive subject to call upon during this period of time but “The Scarlett Letter” started a universal theme about the topic of adultery.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment. The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward (New American Bible Matthew 6:16).” The Puritans that settled into Massachusetts in the seventeenth century were some of the most religious people to be seen throughout History. Prior to landing in America they had already abandoned two countries in order to “purify,” their Puritan religion and find a place where they could be guided by faith alone. The basis of Puritanism was predestination, the belief that one was already predestined to go to heaven or hell. The Bible clearly states that hypocrites have already received
Through out the course of history, those who were considered sinners were often out casted from the society. This is much the case with Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. After a public trial, Hester is considered a sinner due to her birthing of a so called “devil child”. Hester is convicted to the life long bearing of a scarlet letter on her chest. The Scarlet Letter that Hester Prynne wears symbolizes the change in perception of sin through out the novel. Due to the revelations of the governor Winthrop and the reverend Dimmesdale, the way sin is perceived changes from one of shame to the idea that every one is a sinner in their own right.
In The Scarlet Letter, the perception of sin deviates from person to person. The deviation occurs on the severity of the sin that was committed and who committed the sin. Focusing on Hester and Dimmesdale, it is easy to compare the consequences of coping with the perception of their sins, on a private and a public level. The outcome of dealing with their sin is extremely different. The theme of morality affects Hester and Dimmesdale as well. They have varying levels of morality and this changes during the course of the novel.