The Transcendental Influence on Individualism and Puritanism

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The Transcendental Influence on Individualism and Puritanism In relation to the transcendental philosophy of individualism and self-reliance, the Emersonian philosophy of the freeing of the individual from traditional social ties had a tremendous impact on Nathaniel Hawthorne and his writing (Johnson, 233). In the utopian society of Brook Farm, Ralph Waldo Emerson studied how opposition to change locks individuals into certain expectations. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this philosophy was a radical rejection to certain Puritan ethics (Johnson, 234). Despite Emerson's influence, Hawthorne shows his strict Puritan background within his writing (Bloom, 155). The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates how he uses both of his influences to illustrate the tension between transcendental individualism and the Puritanical sense of society. The mood in Hawthorne's description of the prison door, illustrates the tension between conventionality and originality. A gloomy and dark mood is immediately established which will prevail throughout the rest of the novel. The wooden door of the jail is described as being cold and marked with weather stains and indications of age (Bloom, 162). This description shows the uninviting nature of the Puritan society. The Puritans had very close and united communities and because of this, they did not welcome any diversity from outsiders (Bloom, 163). This lack of diversity is shown in the uniformly gloomy mood when Hawthorne goes straight from his description of the prison door to the description of the grass as being, "overgrown and unsightly vegetation," (Hawthorne, 47). Hawthorne's use of color is also important in conveying the mood of his description. The comparison of Puritanical society to a black flower is another raw image. Most often, in literary texts, a flower is a symbol, shown by its vivid color and

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