Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America’s greatest novelists, wrote The Scarlet Letter in 1850. The book takes place in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1642-1649. The protagonist of this story is Hester Prynne; who is an adulterer and has an illegitimate child. Unfortunately, it is a great sin in The Scarlet Letter for an adulteress to commit such a crime, and she must wear the scarlet letter ‘A’ on her chest at all times. The people of The Scarlet Letter look down upon Hester Prynne and consider her a whore who should be made an example of.
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout The Scarlet Letter mainly through the use of imagery to demonstrate how hypocritical The Scarlet Letter’s community truly is. The main theme of The Scarlet Letter deals with sin and its consequences. At the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, it states that “.. the founders [of Boston] had been a forest-people,” (Hawthorne 7). It goes on to say that some aspects of nature, such as passion and instinct, stay with The Scarlet Letter’s people.
The settlers of The Scarlet Letter were all from Europe but somehow they still have a connection to nature. In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne tries to prove that these characteristics of The Scarlet Letter’s ancestors from the forest are what drives The Scarlet Letter’s community so passionately about sin. The ‘A’ on Hester Prynne’s chest represents adultery, something that is one of the worst sins a person can commit in The Scarlet Letter.
The Scarlet Letter is a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and published in 1850. The main character, Hester Prynne, is forced to wear the letter ‘A’ on her clothes as the mark of guilt for committing adultery and bearing an illegitimate child (Pearson 1). The word ‘Adultery’ can be traced back to Latin, which means ‘away from one’s spouse’. The novel explores the moral and religious beliefs of The Puritans who settled in Massachusetts to freely practice their religion. The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most famous novel, it won him an American Book Award for fiction in 1854 (Himmelfarb 3).
The book is considered to be a masterpiece of literature because of its historical significance. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether sin was intentional or unintentional by analyzing each character within The Scarlet Letter . First, the reader must understand that “sin” is defined as “to commit (an) offense,” and depending on what type of offense was committed determines the intensity and consequence of the sin. In The Scarlet Letter , Hester Prynne committed adultery by sleeping with her husband’s business partner, while still married to her husband (Dowling 239).
The act of adultery is considered to be the most serious offense against The Law of God; therefore, Hester Prynne should suffer major consequences. However, The Puritan society in The Scarlet Letter did not punish Hester Prynne for committing adultery because The Church was more focused on punishing an adulteress’ sin rather than actually forgiving them (Dowling 238-239). The main character who actually punishes Hester Prynne for committing this crime is The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
Next, readers must consider how The Puritans would have seen the world differently than today’s society. At that time, The Holy Bible was The Law and The Puritans interpreted The Bible literally. The Scarlet Letter is based on the biblical story of Hester and King Ahasuerus in The Old Testament (Dowling 238). As a result, The Puritan community believed that they were living by their religious values and, therefore, sin was if one broke God’s Laws. The last consideration for this paper is to understand Nathaniel Hawthorne’s point of view on sin against The Church.
Throughout most of the novel Nathaniel Hawthorne describes The Scarlet Letter with ‘scathing words’ such as “tawdry” and “painted”. He also uses symbolism throughout The Scarlet Letter to present his views regarding sin; for example, at one point he uses a flower to describe The Scarlet Letter as ‘A Flower of Lust’ (Dowling 238). The main point that Nathaniel Hawthorne wanted his reader to understand is sin cannot be concealed or hidden from God, because God will always see it and make you pay for it.
The Puritans in The Scarlet Letter understood the consequences of their actions after they committed them; therefore, The Puritans did not view sin as intentional. In conclusion, The Scarlet Letter suggests that man should question the extent of sin and whether he/she would commit such an offense against The Holy Bible. The novel also reminds readers that no matter how hard man tries to conceal his sins from God, he will always be punished for committing any offense against Him.
The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 American novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The book is about a young woman named Hester Prynne who commits adultery and has to wear the letter ‘A’ on her clothes as punishment throughout the whole book. The work of literature explores The Puritans who settled in Massachusetts for freedom of religion. The main character Hester Prynne was punished for committing adultery because The Church, back then, focused more on punishing adulterers rather than forgiving them.
The Puritan society didn’t punish Hester for committing intentional sin against God but, rather, they saw it if she was doing what she was supposed to do or not. The Scarlet Letter is based on the biblical story of Hester and King Ahasuerus in The Old Testament. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, used scornful words throughout The Scarlet Letter to present his views regarding sin. One of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s main point is that no matter how hard man tries God will always be able to see it and punish him/her for what they have done.
Hester Prynne was forced to wear The Scarlet Letter on her clothes as punishment because she committed adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale while being married with Roger Chillingworth (Dowling 238). The Puritans also believed if one committed an offense against The Holy Bible they would suffer major consequences. For example The Puritans would punish The Scarlet Letter because The Holy Bible says “Now I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
The last point for this paper is The Puritan community felt like they were living by their religious values and if one broke The Holy Bible’s Law they would be punished. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout The Scarlet Letter to present his views regarding sin; for example he describes The Scarlet Letter as ‘A Flower of Lust’. Throughout most of the book Nathaniel Hawthorne describes The Scarlet Letter with ‘scathing words’ such as “tawdry” and “painted”.