Scarlet Letter Thematic Analysis

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Society can be a cruel thing. It can ridicule a person, break a person spiritually or even drive a person mad. The characters in The Scarlet Letter react to adversity in a variety of ways. Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel is the classic battle between good and evil. The emotional complexity of human nature ranges from weak and frail to survival and strength. Human consciousness of right and wrong is a blend of societal rules and the innate will to do good. Hester Prynne, in the absence of her husband, falls in love with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. This love is tested by seven years of denial, but love and caring prevail. What was once considered a mistake is now seen as a mischievous child named Pearl. After her extramarital affair, Hester has to go through the humiliation of standing in front of the entire town wearing her scarlet letter and holding her illegitimate child. She feels remorse for her action: “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast, --at her, the child of honorable parents, --at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, --at her, who had once been innocent, --as the figure of the body, the reality of sin” (Hawthorne 73). Society sees Hester in various roles but they judge her according to unforgiving rules. While Hester’s “sins” are out in public where all could see, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth hide their debaucheries from public view. The persecution of Hester strengthens her faith and conviction in the difference between right and wrong. The solitary life Hester is forced to live results in a determined drive to raise Pearl to the best of her ability: “Lonely was Hester’s situation, without a friend on Earth who dared to show himself, she, however, incurred no risk of want” (75). Focused only on bettering her life for Pearl, the townspeople see and benefit from the very
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