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Free Book Report - Analysis of the Scarlet Letter

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Free Book Report - Analysis of the Scarlet Letter

 


The Scarlet Letter is a novel that deals with the never-ending theme of sin. Throughout history, people have committed all types of sins, and whether they are major or minor, people have been punished. However, the severity of a punishment is very difficult to agree on. Some people feel that sinners should be deeply punished no matter how little the wrongdoing was. Others feel that a person's punishment should be based upon the severity of their crime. However, what many people overlook is the fact that in time, we all have committed sins. In The Scarlet Letter, the idea of sin and punishment is the main theme of the novel and how Hester Prynne, the main character, has been punished for her sin of adultery. As Nathaniel Hawthorne states in this novel, "In the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike." This statement puts a big question mark on the true lives of the Puritans. If we all have once committed a moral wrongdoing, why is this young woman so harshly punished for her sin? Hester Prynne was a young woman living in a Puritan community in the "New World." Her husband, Roger Chillingworth was said to be lost at sea, and Hester assumed his death. Upon this basis, young Hester committed a crime of adultery with her fellow Minister Arthur Dimmesdale. The result of this extra marital affair was the birth of young Pearl, an "elf-like" child. When the townspeople become aware of what Hester has done, they forced her to wear an ultimate sign of punishment, the scarlet letter. This letter "A" for adultery had to be worn on Hester's bosom at all times. However, Roger Chillingworth returns from sea and now seeks revenge on Hester's lover. When one analyzes the punishment inflicted upon her, it may seem harsh and cruel, especially for a Puritan society. It seems that Hawthorne agrees with this as well. Throughout the novel, it seems apparent that Hawthorne feels that the punishment Hester received was harsh and self-degrading. When one commits a sin, they should understand their mistake, receive their blame, and receive a "slap on the wrist." However, the punishment Hester received was far worse emotionally. Wearing the letter made Hester the talk-about of the town. When she walked through the marketplace, she received scornful looks, as if society was rejecting her for her wrongdoing. Hester was now living on the outskirts of town, isolated from neighbors and trying to communicate with her daughter Pearl. After many years of being swept out of society, Hester realized that her punishment was far worse than she deserved. Many times throughout the novel, Hawthorne sympathizes with Hester because of the emotional problems she encounters. Hawthorne sees her as the victim quite oftenly and blames it on her youth. She was forced to marry Roger Chillingworth at a young age, although she clearly had no feelings for him. Secondly, Hester's crime was one out of passion, not malice. It is clear throughout the novel that she has strong feelings for Dimmesdale and they outweigh her respect for the Puritan's code of law. Although Hawthorne does not condone adultery, he often feels that Hester's sin is somewhat out of necessity. She has nobody in her life. Her husband is lost at see and she lives with nobody. Dimmesdale was the first man Hester really loved, and he feels that because of these circumstances, her punishment far outweighed her crime. Throughout the novel, it is very clear that Hester does not abide by most Puritan traditions and she clearly is not very orthodox. However, at times in the novel, it seems that she has overcome her guilt and her love for Pearl is unmatched, yet the scarlet letter always reminds her of her adulterous sin. A human is very fragile and many things can hurt or upset them. As Hawthorne expresses, it is clear to Puritans that they have little or no sympathy for unruly persons. Hawthorne feels that once she has over come her guilt and has accepted her punishment, then Hester should be able to start over from scratch and unload this heavy burden from her back. However, that doesn't happen. This sin remains with Hester for seven years until her death, and the Puritan community never seems to forgive her for her sins. It is very clear that in this novel, Hawthorne is attempting to express his feelings on Puritan life and their rigid beliefs towards transgressors. However, people should be able to leave the past behind them and start over, yet that never seems to happen, and Hester is forced to drag this guilt around with her, until her last breath of air.

 

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image of graphic displaying the Scarlet Letter - free book report

1. Scarlet Letter 4
A critic, Edward Wagenknecht explains that the scarlet letter upon Hester's breast in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter "had not done its office." This means that the actions of the magistrate
2. The Scarlet Letter: The Symbolic Scaffold
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the powerful scaffold setting three times throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter to portray the themes woven into his tale of sin. The title of Hawthorne?s novel alludes 
3. Symbolism Of The Scarlet Lette
The Scarlet Letter, written in the 1800’s by Anti-Transcendentalist Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of Hester Prynne. Young Hester lived in New England, about the same time witch trials w
4. The Scarlet Letter: Much Symbolism
The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a d
5. Pleasantville And The Scarlet Letter
The movie Pleasantville, directed by Gary Ross, and the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both were stories focused on outcasts in society. Though they were written generations apar
6. Scarlet Letter (character Deve

7. The Scarlet Letter: Forms Of Punishment
In the course of a lifetime a person will commit a wrong-doing. This act may as trivial as speaking out of turn, or it may be as serious as committing a murder. Following the incident a person is us
8. The Scarlet Letter: The Theme Of Punishment
Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes, the most powerful being punishment. In this novel, Hester Prynne becomes a highly respected person in a Puritan society by overcoming one 
9. The Scarlet Letter: The Theme Of Punishment
Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes, the most powerful being punishment. In this novel, Hester Prynne becomes a highly respected person in a Puritan society by overcoming one of th
10. Scarlet Letter: Who Should Punish A Sinner? Religion, Society, Or Individuals
Scarlet Letter: Who Should Punish A Sinner? Religion, Society, or Individuals Who should punish a sinner? Should it be religion, society, or the individual? In Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter all three
11. Symbolism In The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into a 
12. Scarlet Letter 2
Scarlet Letter - Punishment and Death Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes, among those including punishment and death. Utilizing the theme of punishment, the central character, Heste
13. The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism
Symbolism in literature is the deepness and hidden meaning in a piece of work. It is often used to represent a moral or religious belief or value. Without symbolism literature is just a bunch of mea
14. Scarlet Letter-the Sides Of A
The Sides of the Characters of the Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the book in the times of the puritans in the 1600’s. The Characters of the book include Hester Prynne, Pearl, Revere
15. The Scarlett Letter
The Scarlet Letter is a book of much symbolism. One of the most complex and misunderstood symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl, throughout the story, develops into 
16. The Scarlet Letter: Admitted, Hidden & No Guilt
Puritans believe that confession is a means of purifying the soul. In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s story, The Scarlet Letter, admitted guilt, such as that of Hester Prynne, who wore a scarlet letter pinne
17. The Scarlet Letter - Punishment And Death
Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes, among those including punishment and death. Utilizing the theme of punishment, the central character, Hester Prynne, was forced to wear an embr
18. The Scarlet Letter 4
Throughout time, the power of the people and their laws have differed in many ways. The Puritans are one example. Many people in this time period died because of their "branded sin." In Nathaniel Haw
19. The Scarlet Letter: Hester And Her Daughter Are Isolated From Society
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl are isolated from society; this is shown by where they live, the action from people toward Pearl and Pearl's reaction
20. Symbolism Of The Scarlet Letter
Authors sometimes use symbols in their novels to represent different objects, people or ideas. One example is the S on Superman's uniform, which symbolizes him being supper. In "The Scarlet Letter