Scarlet Letter Transcendentalism Essay

The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin Essay

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The Scarlet Letter: An Analysis of Puritanism and Sin

The Scarlet Letter is a modern classic of American literature written about controversy and published with controversy. The main topic of the book, adultery, is written in a dark and sad way, as Hawthorne describes injustice, fate or predetermination and conscience ( Van Doren, 1998) . No other American novel of the time has such a controversial theme as Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. The setting of Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is the seventeenth century Puritan New England. But Hawthorne's writing for this book is heavily influenced by his own nineteenth century culture. Hawthorne strongly believed in Providence. Hawthorne was descended from the Puritan…show more content…

He describes them "as if hey were ghosts…. Gazing with harsh and intolerant criticisms at the pursuits and enjoyments of living men." ( Bloom, 1986, p. ). Predestination, a belief of the
Puritan ethic that man's fate is set at his birth is also very much a part of the characters of the book. The Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, who committed adultery with Hester Prynne, uses the statement, "Were it God's will" when he asks for Roger Chillingsworth's advice on whether he should admit publicly to the adultery . Dimmesdale says " I could be well content that my labours, and my sorrows, and my sins, and my pains, should shortly end with me, and what is earthly of them be buried in my grave, and the spiritual go with me to my eternal state, rather than you should put your skill to the proof on my behalf" p. Hester Prynne and The Reverend Dimmesdale's affair becomes the focus of the 17th century community in New England. Hester is the "fallen" woman who is brought before the court of community opinion and justice. This Puritan community believes that all men have fallen and all men are sinners (Bloom, 1986). Hester is made to wear the scarlet letter, an A. This A represents adultery and it is Hester's badge of dishonor and sin and a symbol of her failure. The scarlet letter is meant to affect the person wearing it by showing that they have sinned an are, in the end, sorry for their sin. The letter has the opposite

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Is Hester Prynne A Transcendentalist?

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How is Hester Prynne A Transcendentalist?
     
In the novel The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is mainly a transcendentalist. The term transcendentalist coined in nineteenth century America, describes an optimistic person who fully lives in the present and has faith in the future. He or she loves nature, sees God in nature, and believes we are all connected. A transcendentalist takes action, and is honest and very individualistic. To me that clearly explains Hester Prynne's personality and beliefs. She is a confident, hopeful woman who never seems to let anyone get her down, which tells me that she is Hawthorne's transcendentalist, living in a Puritan America.      
     In the first chapters of the novel, Hester was punished to wear an "A" on her chest at all times. The "A" is a punishment for the adultery she committed with the towns own Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Instead of making it into something that people looked down upon, as something horrific and disgusting on her chest, she made it look like a beautiful, gleaming gem. She made it out of the most gorgeous sparkling gold threads that caught everyone's eye. A quote in chapter two described the scarlet letter as "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." That shows how she is a confident and very individual person. No other woman would have as much courage as she did to make a punishment into an attraction.
     Hester always lived her life as fully as possible. She wouldn't let anyone torment her and stop her from getting her work done. In chapter thirteen fellow community members would say the following words to strangers: " Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge? It is our Hester, -the town's own Hester, who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comfortable to the afflicted!" That shows that she still made a good name for herself because of her faith and the hope she had in herself.
     In one of the last few chapters of the novel Hester said these following words to Dimmesdale in trying to convince him to give up his Puritan pessimism: " Let us not look back, for the past is gone! Wherefore should we linger upon it now?

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See! With this symbol, I undo it all, and make it as it had never been! There is happiness to be enjoyed! There is good to be done! Exchange this false life of thine for a true one." That shows me that she has faith in the future and she believed that things could change for the better. She likes to take action and is very optimistic.
     Hester Prynne is a very strong woman for being a transcendentalist during the time when everyone else was a Puritan. That is because Hawthorne created her as a heroine more like women of his era in 1850. Back then it just wasn't normal to be anything except like everyone else. She would be a great example for all women nowadays because of her strength and will. She was a woman that never would give up and always hope for a better day.



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