The Scarlet Letter: A Psychological Analysis.

Essay by Banquo7High School, 10th gradeA+, September 2003

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~ The Scarlet Letter ~

Psychological Analysis

"I experienced a sensation...of burning heat; and as if the letter sere not of red cloth, but red-hot iron." These words in the introduction to The Scarlet Letter describe the letter as an object that contains power. The power left in the little red piece of cloth represents all the emotional toil that was associated with it - guilt, pain, betrayal, and vengeance. Throughout the novel the letter will stir all these emotions, creating an intense psychological drama. Nathaniel Hawthorne attempted to open a window to the human psyche during the novel to show that humans deal with emotional tumult in complex ways.

Probably one of the most prominent, if not the most, themes in the novel is guilt. Around every corner, a character is forced to deal with the plaguing guilt that eats away at their souls from the inside. For example, Dimmesdale is actually driven to sickness by his conscience whispering in the back of his mind because of the sin he committed.

At one point, he is driven to the edge of sanity as a result of the grinding, stewing emotion that he won't let himself reveal. Also, for a period, Hester Prynne's life was ruined, simply because she could not face another townsperson as a result of the guilt she felt. This was illustrated in the scene where Pearl constantly strewn Hester's chest with flowers, and Hester resisted the impulse to cover her breast: "whether from pride or resignation, or a feeling that her penance might be best wrought out by this unutterable pain, she resisted the impulse, and sat erect, pale as death..."However, Hawthorne is showing the positive tendencies of human behavior. He does this by displaying that humans have a conscience; morals; a sense of what's...