The scarlet Letter

Essay by joycehendersonUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

The Road of a Religion

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne continuously uses the

image of a road or path as a metaphor for the limited individual freedom within the Puritan

religion. The road, an entity that demands adherence to a dictated direction, is similar to

the structure of Puritanism, which defines a set of strict moral laws that must be followed.

On pages 159-160, the passage that begins with "The road" and ends with "...find them

bright," is an ideal example of Hawthorne's use of the road as a metaphor. Hawthorne's

diction in this passage also suggests that the physical and therefore metaphoric Puritan

road is constructed in such a way that makes deviancy almost inevitable. In this passage

Hester and Pearl walk on a physical road whose qualities make it difficult to follow. In the

same way, Puritans must traverse a religion that is inherently flawed and often leads the

individual astray from it's path.

Hawthorne employs the symbolic connotations of a road or path in order to

demonstrate the strict religious beliefs of the Puritan life. Roads are traditionally used to

symbolize something that is planed out, easy to follow, or hard to stray off from. In this

passage, Hawthorne wisely uses a road to portray the Puritan lifestyle that both Hester

and Pearl are a part of. The idea of uniformity was practiced throughout the Puritan

community. Puritans were required to follow a strict set of religious laws and ideals to

stay pure. To deviate from these laws and ideals broke the uniformity, and therefore was

sinful and was punished to a great extent. The idea of uniformity is identical to the

connotations of a road or path. A road, just like the Puritan society, is uniform; it's

distinguishable, planed out, paved, easy to follow,