The Theme Of Guilt In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the nephew of John Hathorne. During the Salem Witch Trials, the only judge that did not apologize for the remorseless and cruel acts that were put upon many men and women was in fact John Hathorne. Nathaniel changed his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne in an attempt to disassociate himself from his uncle. John Hathorne is the reason why Nathaniel Hawthorne is obsessed with the puritan times. Hawthorne lived in the 1800s, but the setting of the novel is based before the Salem Witch Trials were held in the 1600s. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbolism of the scarlet letter, Dimmesdale, and burrs to contribute to the overall theme of guilt. To begin, Hawthorne uses the scarlet letter “A” to reinforce the theme of Guilt. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of The Scarlet Letter, is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” upon her bosom because she has committed the sin of adultery. This leads Hester to feel guilty for the rest of her life. Hawthorne states, “... that scarlet letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (Hawthorne 51). The quote shows how feeling guilt has made her much more distant from the rest of the townspeople. Hester experiences this agonizing guilt whenever she glances in a mirror, or down at her chest. Pearl is the result of Hester’s
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