Comparing "The Scarlet Letter" and "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Essay by baekyeojaHigh School, 12th gradeB+, September 2014

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"I am! Yet what I am none cares or know, My friends forsake me like a memory lost…" Compare the ways in which isolation or alienation from society are presented in any two of the texts you have studied.

We witness cases of alienation in the texts The Scarlet Letter and A Streetcar Named Desire, which are presented mainly in the female protagonists Hester Prynne and Blanche DuBois. However, although both characters experience isolation from their respective societies, it is my contention that the causes for their isolation are different. While Hester's isolation is largely societal, Blanche experiences two different kinds of isolation. Blanche's isolation is societal with regards to her expulsion from Laurel, whereas her isolation experienced in New Orleans is more self-inflicted. We see that the given quote applies to the two characters at different points of their respective texts, with the quote becoming increasingly relevant for Blanche but less relevant for Hester as the texts progress.

In the texts The Scarlet Letter and A Streetcar Named Desire, both Blanche and Hester experience isolation in Boston and Laurel respectively due to their sexual transgressions. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester's alienation is presented through the harsh treatment she receives before she is even introduced in the novel. Through Hawthorne's shifting narrative perspective in Chapter 3, readers are given an indication of the dislike felt towards Hester for her sin. Hawthorne presents readers with the perspective of the women in society to reveal the amount of hatred and subsequent isolation that Hester will experience once she is released from prison. Furthermore, the constant use of negative descriptions such as "malefactress" and "naughty baggage" (Chapter 2) by the women of Boston society provide further evidence to show the Hester's exclusion from the Puritan community as she has been rejected, ironically,