- Library Resources - The Scarlet Letter () - LibGuides at Anne Arundel Community College
- Scarlet Letter Literary Criticism Essay
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However, the book also has some flaws; most notable including the fact that the writing is an archaic writing style and thus is difficult. During the puritan era women in this society had specific obligations and rights they had to maintain. By Hester having an affair and acting unladylike the community disapproved of her actions causing everyone to isolate her in her town.
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He usually satirized them as evildoers and sin creators, not holy and Christ zealous as they described themselves. Hawthorne also used the effects of mysterious human mind and spontaneous action to describe the Puritan as satanic worship and God disobedience. In result, his writing reflected much of his Puritan ancestry affections. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Literature has functioned throughout history as a means of social criticism that is accessible to the lay public.
Library Resources - The Scarlet Letter () - LibGuides at Anne Arundel Community College
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the earliest examples of literary social criticism. Hawthorne uses the plight of the main character, Hester Prynne, a convicted adulterer in a society that severely. The novel indicates the strong romantic presence of that time. It revolves around a young woman who is struggling to fit into a new town in a 17th century Puritan society.
Scarlet Letter Literary Criticism Essay
Hester Prynne, after moving to America to prepare a home for her husband Roger, makes a mostly independent life for herself in what is now Boston, Massachusetts. Hawthorne begins to develop the character of the common people in order to build the mood of the story. The first sentence begins, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored. It starts off with a woman named Hester Prynne. Hester decides to leave her husband behind to migrate to Boston.
A couple years later, Hester gives birth to a baby girl named Pearl in prison. Hester refused to reveal the father of Pearl. The town then forces Hester to wear a scarlet letter "A" upon her dress. New Historicism, Feminist Criticism and Deconstruction in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Introduction Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter has been a highly debatable topic of numerous critical essays, written by scholars who approach the novel from various perspectives of literary criticism.
One of the few characters to refuse such violation is Holgrave, who, in The House of the Seven Gables , forbears to use his mesmeric powers on Phoebe. Such a set of recurring themes is bolstered by a pervasive character typology. Fanshawe , for example, introduced the pale, idealistic scholarly hero more fully developed in Dimmesdale. Others, personifications of abstract qualities, seem motivated by purely evil ends.
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Westervelt is one type; sophisticated and learned in mesmerism, he takes as his victim the innocent Priscilla. Chillingworth, whose literary ancestry can probably be traced to Miltonic devil-figures, is old and bent but possesses a compelling intellect that belies his lack of physical strength. Fanshawe Three years after Hawthorne graduated from Bowdoin College, he anonymously published the apprenticeship novel Fanshawe at his own expense. Although he almost immediately repudiated the work, it remains not only a revealing biographical statement but also a testing ground for themes and characters that he later developed with great success.
Melmoth, takes his name. Certainly, Hawthorne recognized the tension between the intellectual and the practical lives, as his letters and journals suggest, especially when he was at the Boston and Salem Custom Houses and at the consulate in Liverpool.
Probably begun while Hawthorne was enrolled at Bowdoin, the novel has as its setting Harley College, a picturesque, secluded institution. Rather, as is the case in the later novels in which Salem itself, Brook Farm, and Rome are the existing actualities on which Hawthorne draws, so in Fanshawe the setting is an excuse for the psychological action. The essay is thus a distillation of the practical and the imaginative.
It includes scant praise for the unimaginative William Lee, the antediluvian permanent inspector whose commonplace attitude typified for Hawthorne the Customs operation. The result of that perception was The Scarlet Letter.
OCHS Honors American Literature
In the prefatory essay to the book, Hawthorne establishes the literalism of the scarlet letter, which, he says, he has in his possession as an old, faded, tattered remnant of the past. Through this symbol, then, and through its living counterpart, Pearl, the daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale, Hawthorne examines the isolating effects of a sense of sin, using as his psychological setting the Puritan ethos.
To admit to his share in the adultery is to relinquish his standing as the minister of the community, and so, initially too weak to commit himself, he pleads with Hester to confess her partner in the sin. She does not do so, nor does she admit that Chillingworth, the doctor who pursues Dimmesdale, is her husband. Three solitary people, then, are inexorably bound together by the results of the sin but are unable to communicate with one another.
The Puritan intention of bringing the sinner into submission has the opposite effect upon Hester, who, with a pride akin to humility, tenaciously makes a way for herself in the community. As an angel of mercy to the suffering, the sick, and the heavy of heart, she becomes a living model of charity that the townspeople, rigidly enmeshed in their Puritan theology, are unable to emulate. As veiled confessions, his sermons take on an ever growing intensity and apparent sincerity, gaining many converts to the church.
As Terence Martin suggests, the scaffold scenes are central to the work. For Dimmesdale, public abnegation is the key: Standing as a penitent on the scaffold at midnight is insufficient, for his act is illuminated only by the light of a great comet. In the end, the scaffold proves the only real escape from the torments devised by Chillingworth, for in facing the community with Hester and Pearl, the minister faces himself and removes the concealment that is a great part of his guilt.
Like Fanshawe, then, Dimmesdale causes his own demise, but he is provided with motivation. The successful meshing of the literal and allegorical levels in this tale of the effects of concealed sin and the universality of its theme continues to lend interest to the work.
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The House of the Seven Gables As Hawthorne notes in his preface to The House of the Seven Gables , he intends to show the mischief that the past causes when it lives into the present, particularly when coupled with the question of an inheritance. In contrast to these forces from the past, Hawthorne poses Phoebe, a Pyncheon country cousin with no pretensions to wealth but with a large fund of domesticity and a warm heart. Indeed, Phoebe brings her enfeebled relatives into the circle of humanity.
If Phoebe represents the living present, Holgrave, the daguerreotypist and descendant of the Maules, represents the future. Like Clifford, however, who is saved by his imprisonment from an aesthetic version of the unpardonable sin, Holgrave runs the risk of becoming merely a cold-blooded observer. Like Hawthorne, Holgrave is a writer, boarding at the House of the Seven Gables to observe the drama created as the past spills into the present and turning Pyncheon history into fiction.
He is, nevertheless, a reformer.
The chain of past circumstances is also broken by the death of Judge Pyncheon, who, unlike Holgrave, intended to exercise his psychological power to force Clifford to reveal where the Indian deed is hidden. As Holgrave learns, the Judge himself murdered his bachelor uncle and destroyed a will that gave the inheritance to Clifford.
Like Hawthorne, Miles Coverdale notes the disjunction between a life of labor and a life of poetry; like Hawthorne, he never wholeheartedly participates in the community. As Martin notes, Hawthorne sacrifices certain aesthetic advantages in allowing Coverdale to tell his own story.