Scarlet Letter As A Romance

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is very contradictory on whether or not it is a romance. In many ways, The Scarlet Letter fits into the characteristics of a romance. Some would say that a romance is merely a story of the love between man and woman, but it goes much farther than that. There are a few characteristics that most romances have. The Scarlet Letter can be considered to be a romance in that it is centered amidst the more personal quandaries of the main characters, it contains a fractured kinship or at best a malignant love affair, and occurs in a peculiar somewhat perverse setting.

The Scarlet Letter shows true to be a romance in its depiction of the lives of the main characters. "Romance usually features private issues rather than the public affairs of nations and societies (Betcher 2000)." It arrives to the romantic end through the wheels of local public affairs being created out of private issues.

In the Salem government, society sought to uncover and expose evil individuals for the express purpose of scourging sin from the community. Hester Prynne's private sin of adultery became a badge of dishonor visible to all of Salem society. The reader can see Reverend Dimmesdale's secret sin of adultery that remains veiled from the eyes of the resident parishioners in Salem. He wears his sin not on his chest as Hester was condemned, but rather on his heart. Those lives intimately effected by the adulterous relationship would bare the scars of spiritual death.

The Scarlet Letter further proves to be a romance in that "Romance usually features a close relationship or love affair, often disrupted in some way (Betcher 2000)." A husband trusting his wife's fidelity sends her into a new and unknown society. He hopes...