Scarlet letter critique -

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is one of the most well remembered romantic novels in history. Although written in 1850, its influence and literary greatness still force themselves onto English teachers' syllabuses every year. A strong question brought forth by this action is: "How and why does this novel manage to survive the change in society and taste over the years?" The answer to this is quite simple. It is Hawthorne's ability to project his main themes throughout the story. The themes have been able to somehow fit into every different society, even up to our time. The major themes seem to be: first, a law vs. nature idea, one that poses the laws of society against the nature of human beings. The next major theme fits into the first. It is an individual vs. society idea; Hester and her lover, Dimmesdale, become fugitives of the law of Puritan society.

The next is the effect of sin, whether good or bad, on the novel's major characters. The final major theme is the public vs. private self. It shows that people are much, much different in the public than they are privately. These themes, as the reader acknowledges, are apparent just as much in today's society as they were in the 17th-century society that Hawthorne writes of. This similarity between the societies of the last 300 years has kept The Scarlet Letter, and the love for the pure romance novel, alive.

The first major theme, the law vs. nature theme, runs very deep throughout The Scarlet Letter. Although today's society is very tolerant to the wrongdoing of its citizens, Puritan society was very strict. Its laws covered every aspect of life. Human nature was constantly bubbling because of the stranglehold that Puritan law put on its liberties. Its is...