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Hester Prynne and Christ Symbology
Nathaniel Hawthorne's character of Hester Prynne in the novel The Scarlet Letter remains one of the most powerful literary figures of all time and much has been made about her critically throughout the decades. Literary critics have compared her as an early feminist leader and others have compared her to a magical superhero. This paper intends to discuss how Hawthorne actually works very hard to consistently develop Hester Prynne into Christ-like figure through description and deed. Hawthorne's development of Hester in this manner manifests as a scathing criticism towards the puritan religion as a whole.
Nathaniel Hawthorne began to make a strong case in asserting that Hester Prynne was indeed a Christ-like figure and elevated above the baseness of the New England Puritanical religion from his very first description of Hester Prynne. Hawthorne begins slowly, establishing that Hester is a commanding, regal figure: "The young…… [Read More]
First, her sin is committed out of love and not from any negative motive, and second, her quietness and industriousness afforded her the time for self-reflection that led to her change and salvation.
Abigail, in contrast has no family in the Crucible. She latches on to John Proctor as a sort of father/husband substitute, reflecting the twisted nature of her character. Her manipulation of the other girls also reflects the lack of early family relationships. The culture of Salem in the play is also different from Boston in the Scarlet Letter; the people are far more selfish and greedy, and the availability of land creates a very different dynamic amongst the people that fosters Abigail's evil tendencies. At heart, however, Abigail is simply a self-centered and shortsighted girl. These two personal attributes are the main cause of her downfall, just as Hester's innate goodness is the main source of her…… [Read More]
Hester Prynne: Courage and Integrity Incarnate
The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts the struggle of Hester Prynne in attempting to live by the standards set by her own internal guidelines. This creates a great deal of conflict as she is forced to confront the standards set by the Puritan society of Colonial America for what is considered decent behavior. At the opening of the book, so much has already happened: Hester Prynne’s husband (Roger Chillingworth) was shipwrecked and captured by native people—many thought he had unfortunately perished. The town’s religious leader Arthur Dimmesdale offers Hester an understanding ear and shoulder to cry on, but this leads to an affair that results in the birth of Hester’s daughter Pearl, born out of wedlock. Thus, it is very revelatory about these townspeople that they offer Hester very little understanding for the ways that she has suffered. Instead she is…… [Read More]
But because of her own inner strengths as a woman of character, Hester goes against all of the principles of Puritan society and ends up spoiled and ruined by bigotry and prejudice.
As to the themes found in the Scarlet Letter, it is clear that Hawthorne meant to tell a moral story with Hester Prynne as the main focus. Perhaps Hawthorne was attempting to tell the reader that Hester Prynne, due to her innate compassion and defiance of Puritan law and customs, stands as a literary symbol of non-conformity which in the end of the story causes her to be cast out and admonished for her sins. After all, Hester's physical beauty appears to have created in the eyes of the men in her village a "halo of misfortune and ignominy," two negative traits which "enveloped" her entire inner and outer self, much like the scarlet "A" on her dress.… [Read More]
In conclusion, these works all illustrate the changing role of women in 19th century society. At the beginning of the century, women's work was inside the home and raising a family. By the end of the century, Victorian women were attempting to add meaning and fulfillment to their lives. Women in this country were attempting to gain the right to vote, they were forming women's groups and societies, and women like Gilman, Chopin, Wollstonecraft Shelley, and others, were attempting to create their own writing careers, allowing them to be at least partially autonomous and independent. They write of women's struggles for equality and understanding with great knowledge, skill, and perception. They also write of the realities of being a woman in the 19th century. For the most part, women's lives were unfulfilled and controlled by the men around them.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening, and Other Stories. Ed. Knights, Pamela.…… [Read More]
Lawrence often compares the mechanistic world of industrialize Britain with the world of nature, and the fecundity and sexuality of the natural world is seen as distorted by the mechanistic world that has developed in this century. In such a comparison, Clifford is on the side of the industrial world, while Connie comes out on the side of the natural world. Yet, this is not what society wants women to be, and yet it is also the reason women were so restricted by society, because they were viewed as dangerous threats to the natural order because of their inherent sexuality.
In Lawrence's conception, living according to nature precludes the possibility of sin, though society may see the issue in a different light. hile one could apply this idea to Hester and Tess as well, their authors clearly do not view the issue in that way, though they do find their…… [Read More]
Modern day movies rarely do justice for the classics. The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne falls into that category. Even Demi Moore could not meet the genius of the original writing. "Demi Moore plays the strong-willed Hester Prynne brilliantly, and Gary Oldman (I want to marry him) turns Reverend Dimmesdale into an extremely complex and passionate character. The love between Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale lasts throughout the movie with great intensity - all of it rooted in the one amazing love scene which leads to Prynne's pregnancy." (hen Love Becomes Sin) I loved reading The Scarlet Letter much more than the I did seeing the movie and this report is an attempt to explain why I think so highly of the written work.
Nathanial Hawthorne was a writer from Salem, Massachusetts where his famous home, the House of Seven Gables, still stands to this day. Surprisingly, Hawthorne…… [Read More]
Trace the development (or lack) of one of the major characters in the story, from beginning to end.
From the opening of The Scarlet Letter, when Hester Prynne stands alone on a scaffold, condemned by the Salem community, until the end when she stands with Arthur and Pearl on that same scaffold, Hester is a remarkably strong character. Unlike Arthur Dimmesdale, her partner in sin, who appears strong initially but weakens throughout the story, Hester grows even stronger as the story progresses. Hawthorne's early descriptions of Hester are of her physical beauty: she is . . . tall, with a figure of perfect elegance," with "dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine . . ." (Hawthorne, 1334). ithin Hester's proud, haughty bearing when we are first see her, we also glimpse traces of her rebellion and impetuousness (some of which become evident in Pearl), which,…… [Read More]
Lastly, Roger as the former and unknown husband of Hester has also shown depth in character by assuming the role of both a vengeful and still-caring husband for Hester. In addition to these personalities, Roger has also risen from anonymity to prominence as a physician in the town of Salem. Although Roger was consistently driven by revenge and ill feelings against the lover of Hester, he showed wisdom and righteousness during Hester's prosecution in the marketplace, wherein he was heard remarking, "A wise sentence...thus she will be a living sermon against sin, until the ignominious letter be engraved upon her tombstone." In this instance, Roger was both judgmental and fair in assessing Hester's situation: he was judgmental for he also cursed Hester for her deeds and the outcome of her sinfulness, but he also considered the fact that she was not alone in the commitment of this deed, thus he…… [Read More]
The child is closely associated with the original sin and the symbol of it. The scarlet letter was, in fact, one of the first items that caught her eye. "One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant's eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter; and, putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling, not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam that gave her face the look of a much older child" (95). Such duality of sin and its symbols foreshadows Hester's eventual empowerment as a result of her punishment and ostracism by the Puritan community. Her life with Pearl is indeed lonely and filled with the challenges of single parenthood, but Hester transcends her misery by employing her own mix of pride, humility, and dignity.
As seven years pass and Pearl becomes a little girl instead of a…… [Read More]
hen Hester is first alone with Chillingworth, for instance, and in several preceding descriptions, she appears to be undergoing a process of destruction herself. She is immensely ashamed, and very aware of the eyes that dart furtively towards the letter emblazoned on her chest; she is too weak to think straight when Chillingworth administers a medicine to Pearl that could, for all Hester knows, be poison, and she is far too weak to resist Chillingworth's insistence that she keep his secrets.
Hester is the first of the three major characters, however, to make a transition to a stronger and more secure position with herself and with her sin; she has clearly found an inner redemption long before the others. The reason for this is the same as the reason that she is the first, and for the bulk of the book the only, character to acknowledge her sin -- Pearl.…… [Read More]
Given that slavery and sexism were still pervasive realities in American society in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Scarlet Letter borders on being a radical work.
awthorne also reveals how religion had pervaded Massachusetts Bay society to the extent that public laws reflected Christianity. The idea that Church and State should be separate did not emerge until much later in American consciousness, and by the time awthorne wrote the Scarlet Letter in 1850 the nation had been fully formed and founded on principles far different than those upon which the Massachusetts Bay Colony was: namely, religious plurality was protected in the Constitution. In spite of that, women had few rights in public society. Women were prohibited from voting or holding public office. Adultery and sexual freedom remained taboo, as was homosexuality and mixed-race relations.
The Scarlet Letter would have been received differently by different groups of people and…… [Read More]
The only material similarity between Prynne's scarlet "badge" and Faith's pink ribbons is that both are made of cloth and adorn some type of clothing, i.e., Faith's ribbons are part of her cap while Prynne's "badge" is sewn into her dress as needlework.
The reader is first introduced to Prynne's "badge" in Chapter Two of the Scarlet Letter when she emerges from jail -- "On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter a." Upon being led to her "place of punishment" for committing adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale, all eyes are immediately drawn to the scarlet "A" which "had the effect of a spell, taking (Hester) out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself" (ell, 163-164). Obviously, this scarlet emblem upon Hester's dress seems to emit a life…… [Read More]
ere all the literary works of Nathaniel Hawthorne compiled into a single manuscript, then appropriately filtered to include only works of prose and fiction, and if an attempt were then made to uncover a single motif spanning through the vast majority of the remaining text, it would read something like the following. A protagonist is haunted by a vague, strangely preternatural feeling of foreboding and doom that eventually manifests itself physically before mortally claiming its victim. Sadly, but not surprisingly so, this motif could also apply to Hawthorne's life. Despite the fact that the author who many have acclaimed as one of the finest in American history enjoyed a celebrated literary career (with a number of impressive, political boons as well), he was never able to fully surmount all of his 'demons' and enjoy the happiness that should have rightfully been his. Instead, the celebrated author…… [Read More]
Review of the Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. Hawthorne has been canonized in many literary circles and is widely recognized as one of the most famous writers of American literature. He wrote The Scarlet Letter at the age of 46, at a time in which he lived with his wife in Concord, Massachusetts. Hawthorne belonged to the Transcendentalist school of writers, which included notable New England writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; this group of writers were less indebted to religion than was common at the time, and preferred to look toward nature and individual thought as sources of wisdom. By the time that The Scarlet Letter was written, Hawthorne was already a well-established writer. He had published his first novel in 1828, a full 22 years before The Scarlet Letter. In this regard, The Scarlet Letter…… [Read More]
Definition of Modernism and Three Examples
Indeed, creating a true and solid definition of modernism is exceptionally difficult, and even most of the more scholarly critical accounts of the so-called modernist movement tend to divide the category into more or less two different movements, being what is known as "high modernism," which reflected the erudition and scholarly experimentalism of Eliot, Joyce, and Pound, and the so-called "low modernism" of later American practitioners, such as William Carlos Williams. Nonetheless, despite the problems of reification involved with such a task, I will attempt to invoke a definitions of at least some traits of modernism, as culled from the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics:
First, [in modernism] "realization" had to replace description, so that instead of copying the external world the work could render it in an image insisting on its own forms of reality... [and] Second, the poets develop…… [Read More]
The objective of this work is to examine Nathaniel Hawthorne's works and to conduct a comparison of the life of Hawthorne to his short stories and to examine how his life and his works paralleled one another.
The life of Nathaniel Hawthorne many times was played out in his stories as his life events and experiences bled forth into his works demonstrating the struggles that the writer faced within himself and his own life. unning through the threads of the stories of Hawthorne is the theme of Puritanism and this is clearly perceived as one reads the stories of Hawthorne entitled "The Scarlet Letter," "The Minister's Black Veil and "The Birthmark." In order to understand Hawthorne's view it is necessary that one understand what Puritanism is, believes, and represents.
Puritanism was first presented in the works of William Tyndale (1495-1536) as well as in the work of…… [Read More]
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter explores the method of public shaming as a form of legitimate legal sentencing. In the novel, Hester Prynne has an affair with Reverend Dimmesdale. Even though her husband has practically abandoned her and lives in another country, she is punished for what was in Puritan America considered a crime. The punishment reflects Puritanical values related to female sexuality, and reveals ways a patriarchal society controls women's choices by monitoring and controlling their private lives. Given private and domestic spheres were the only realms women had any degree of power, the control over women's sexuality in The Scarlett Letter shows how patriarchy becomes entrenched and immutable. Moreover, the use of public shaming to sentence Prynne serves an overarching function of social control. Religion, a core theme in The Scarlett Letter, is the vehicle of that social control and the law is also used to enforce and…… [Read More]
Miller focuses a created, heterosexual alliance in his fictional retelling, but I, Tituba concentrates on the outcasts, which formed the actual, majority of the accused.
This alliance between marginal categories of persons is humorously underlined with Tituba meets a famous fictional outcast from Puritan society, Hester Prynne, while in jail. Conde creates a jailhouse meeting between the two women, since who knows what transpired while Tituba awaited her fate? Marginal women do not abandon Tituba, even though her Christian owner, the girls she helped, and her beloved John Indian abandon her to her execution. Hester Prynne helps Tituba say the right things to be released. Confession in Miller is shown as weakness and capitulation to the mad witch hunters, but Conde sees this as careful and clever planning, a just action because of the injustice of Tituba's captors. Finally, the alliance of 'others' is shown when Tituba, is freed from…… [Read More]
The actual sins are thus not Hester's adultery, but the minister's cowardice and her former husband's plans of revenge. Society as a whole could not help, but act according to the laws one thought fit to protect it from destruction. The community was blind, but not nearly as guilty of sin as the two men in Hester's life. The narrator reminds the reader of the two most important things a new colony was first raising on its new founded ground: a prison and a cemetery. Death and punishment were the two tools that gave people a certainty and the power to believe in their future as a community. That is why, although they are guilty of hypocrisy and prejudice, they are having the excuse of being blinded by their struggle to keep their community alive at all costs.
Hester is the element that seemed to threaten the very existence of…… [Read More]
Humor in Literature
American literature is unique in that the attitudes of the works tend to reflect the spirit of the nation and of her citizens. One of the trademarks of American literature is that authors display a tone that can be very serious, but that also can be interpreted as humorous. hereas texts from other cultures are usually more concerned with message and in presenting that message in a dry, even stoic manner, American literature is uniquely capable of mixing the honest and the humorous. Even in the most serious and earnest stories, the sensibility of American humor can be detected. Of course, there are different types of humor. Some stories are flat-out ridiculous and make the reader laugh. Other stories are more sarcastic in their approach to humor and the funny moments have to be analyzed to be better understood. Still other tales are anecdotal and function as…… [Read More]
From a good soldier, he turns into a bad king. He becomes a man who believes the transparent lies of the witches who, along with the urging of his ambitious wife, motivated him to commit the murder of King Duncan.
Hamlet: Hamlet's depressed and uncompromising nature resonates with anyone who has ever been an adolescent. Hamlet is intensely critical of aspects of his society others take for granted, such as King Claudius' right to marry his brother's widow and Old Hamlet's suspect death. Hamlet's criticism can be harsh, and misogynistic as well as misanthropic, but he is an inspiring example for young readers. He urges readers and playgoers today to continually question the morality of their elders and betters, and strike out against the 'smile' or lie that hides the real truth about power in society.
The Scarlet Letter: Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter shows that the appearance of religion without…… [Read More]
Religion features prominently as a theme in literature. In fact, some of the earliest works of literature are rooted in their religious and cultural traditions, including the ancient literatures of the Middle East and Mesopotamia.
As the role of religion in society changed, so too did the role of religion in literature.
Modern literature, including work by Nathaniel Hawthorne, often offers scathing critiques of religion, whereas postmodern literature allows religion to play a more complex role in shaping individual identity.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's he Scarlett Letter heavily criticizes the role of religion in a patriarchal society, whereas Yann Martel's Life of Pi presents religion more as a subjective phenomenon, revealing an important cultural shift from religion to spirituality.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's he Scarlett Letter, the author shows how religion becomes a tool of social oppression and political control.
A. Hawthorne shows that religious authorities are hypocritical, and especially fundamentalists, as the…… [Read More]
She held regular "meetings" -- discussion groups that reinterpreted doctrine. She believed, for instance, in the Free Grace model -- the saved could sin, then ask for forgiveness, without endangering their salvation. She also claimed she could identify the spiritual elect, causing many to view her as a heretic (Ibid).
Trials- Finally, the religious community could tolerate no more. Hutchinson was gathering new followers; women were blatantly defying Puritan rules, and in 1637 she was brought to civil trial in the General Court of Massachusetts on the charge of "traducing the ministers." This Court included government officials and Puritan clergy. Despite being 46 and in the advanced stages of her 15th pregnancy, she was forced to stand for several days of interrogation before an all-male board who tried desperately to get her to admit to blasphemy and tempting mothers to neglect the care of their own families (Anne Hutchinson -…… [Read More]
Olive's tactic, however, is accompanied by "indeeperism" -- that is, the more the pressure builds (and the more her stigma grows on both sides of the fence), the more she is prevented from disclosing techniques. Her lies build until her friendships are threatened. Even then she finds it difficult to overcome her stigma, since those who have helped her earn it refuse to testify to its illegitimacy (since they, of course, have benefited from it). Olive develops a case of away syndrome as she is more and more abandoned by both communities and forced to withdraw into herself (whereupon she resolves to come clean by telling the truth).
Thus a game between the "discredited" and the "discreditable" ensues (Goffman 57). Olive has been discredited by supposed normals, but in reality, she can easily discredit the discreditable who are only passing as normals (such as Mrs. Griffith, Marianne whose relationship…… [Read More]
Roots of the Feeling of Moral Superiority in the U.S.
The United States has been criticized in recent years for assuming an air of moral superiority and for trying to impose their opinions on the rest of the world. Even when the tragedy of September 11 happened, some countries were happy to see America suffer. hy would they hate us? Partly it might be because they envy the wealth and freedom that American citizens have. It is also because they think Americans believe they are always in the right, (my country, right or wrong). Did this attitude emerge with the founding fathers? e can see American attitudes to ourselves and also to other countries in non-fiction and fiction of the first two centuries, from the 1770's to the 1970's.
In "Common Sense," 1776, Thomas Paine declared "Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America...The Almighty hath implanted in us these inextinguishable…… [Read More]
Evolution of Prison Life
hat were prisons like, how were prisoners treated and classified through American history -- including prison environments in the last few years? This paper delves into those topics and provides the available literature that validates the points to be made in this essay.
The History of Prisons and Prisoner Life in America
According to author and Professor Jack Lynch, prisons were among the very first public buildings when settlers began to populate and develop the New orld. And there were few long-term punishments that were meted out, and among those were individuals convicted of being "debtors" (Lynch, 2008). The problem with putting the poor in prison because they couldn't pay their debts was that "…they could never earn the money they owed"; but it wasn't until the 1830s that the U.S. began to "…abolish debtor's prisons" (Lynch, 3). Instead of being imprisoned, convicted criminals were forced…… [Read More]
One of the most insightful things that I ever read about leadership and leading a group of people, is that "leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading" (wsj, 2014). I totally believe that effective leadership continually needs to be adapted to the needs and demands of a given situation, the needs of the people involved and the particular obstacles that face the group as a whole. I believe that ultimately, a good leader has a repertoire or a toolbox of different leadership styles that he or she can use when a specific situation calls for it. Having different leadership styles in this manner helps one to continually adapt more rapidly and specifically to particular situations, empowering one to apply the most relevant tactic. I consider my own personal leadership style to be a hybrid or…… [Read More]
It is difficult to imagine the kinds of unfair discrimination that was wrought against women, witches, and anyone else who did go along with the status quo. However, in inthrop's situation, the matter of survival was so acutely important that a strong-fisted rule was thought to be necessary.
He expresses, more than once, in the trial transcript his fears that the entire colonial civilization could fall over this one woman's outspoken beliefs. Banishment was the only appropriate punishment, since it would remove her from the small, sealed world of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and ensure that she could not sway peoples' minds toward this outrageous idea of grace.
It is almost comical to consider that now, in 2008, we see crowds of Christians waving their hands in the air to feel the grace of God, an experience they believe is attainable simply through their faith. This is the exact kind…… [Read More]
Cultural in the United States
Compare and contrast what Morris Berman, Frank Capra, and David Fincher present as the flaws in our culture's pursuit of material self-interest.
Morris Berman, Frank Capra, and David Fincher present the society in postmodern consumer where the masculine identity is lost: the gray-collar male personnel and the satisfaction socially created by the society focused in materialism. Technology is the baseline for Berman's argument. The argument goes well-known to Neil Postman, and McLuhan Marshal it is not normal, not only does it change the way we connect with the rest of the world, but it also gets our brains wired (Berman 21). A normal brain of a person who has been print raised differs with a big margin from that of a person who, most of his time is corrupted by the internet.
However, the significance of the internet is making a reduction to our understanding…… [Read More]