The Human Inclination to Love In writing The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne was immersed in the era of transcendentalism and romanticism that so greatly influenced his work. Defining the movement was the concept that humans are inherently good in their nature and if they are left to their own devices ultimately they will do that good uncorrupted (Chase 109). Within The Scarlet Letter, this is brought to full awareness through the nature of Puritan society in the early English colony of Boston, Massachusetts.
As a civilized, religious, and refined community this setting was foiled by the neighboring nd unexplored North American wilderness, in which the untouched and uncivilized human nature lurked amidst the shadows by society’s standards. These settings assisted the specific character development of both Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale through the way they came to illustrate the human conditions of the human response to alienation by others, the human struggle between good and evil, and most significantly the inclination for humans to love.
Furthermore, in the unique way both Hester and Dimmesdale share struggles and triumphs of human nature, along with the acceptance of their love for one another as influenced by the etting around them, is what allows the novel to be viewed as a romance. As it was established, the Puritan colony at Boston was meant to serve as an escape from the corrupted Church of England across seas and was to provide a place for a Marks 2 purified organization concerned with adherence to scripture, sermon, and above all doing good for the behalf of God.
This gave to the affect that the Puritans of Boston did not want their community stained by the abomination that is sin. Upon Hester’s emergence from the prison towards the scaffold a community woman violently roclaimed, “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynee’s forehead” (Hawthorne 60). This stagnant mindset for the community based upon the call for castigation is what brought to affect Hester’s symbol of the crimson “A”, that which she war forced to wear openly on her breast.
The actions and reactions of the defined Puritan settlement set in motion the change in Hester through the course of events of the novel. Graciously Hester accepted with stride her initial humiliation upon the scaffold in which the entire community became aware she was an adulteress. She perfectly reacted to this stringent society to address the question of how as humans we respond to the alienation from others around us. Hester responded in her own original manner primarily through her repentance to discover the virtue of truth and self-satisfaction her scarlet letter embodied.
Hester never attempted to free herself from her fate. She could have escaped Boston, however, she decided to continue to be a productive member of society with her cottage on the outskirts of town and sewing business. In addition, she continued to be an active member of the church to further her penance. Hawthorne writes, “It is the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates” (173).
Hester developed to appease the society in which she lived as to make the best of the situation she had created for herself, her daughter Pearl, and partner in sin and lover Reverend Dimmesdale. She welcomed readily a seltless lite sne brought upon herself and lived for others as a symbol for the town. This was reflected in the way Hester transformed herself into a simple woman; she bound up her beautiful hair and wore drab clothing. She was a very attractive woman, however, she sacrificed this in the knowledge she acquired from her sin of passion and physical attraction.
In return society came to conclude that Hester’s embodiment in the scarlet “A” had come to signify Hester’s unique strength in its newly found representation of the word “Able” (Hawthorne 175). The scarlet “A” came to change meaning with Hester’s maturing in virtue. The setting came to forgive Hester, better her character, and ultimately do well for her. She bared the amount of strength necessary and was thoroughly able to conquer the evils of her sin through her epentance. Hawthorne writes, “Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers” (215).
Hester’s goodness of character developed from her repentance is what allowed her to help sustain her lover and partner in sin Dimmesdale in his struggle between good and evil, helping to kindle their feelings for each other. Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne both fell into their sin far apart from what was acceptable by standards of Boston. According to Hawthorne, “This had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose” (215). It was a sin of adultery, ltimately caused by the part of human nature that falls into physical attraction and passion.
The sin of adultery as committed willingly together by Hester and Dimmesdale can parallel with the surrounding unexplored wilderness around Boston, which symbolizes in affect the evils and temptations humanity can come to fall to in its nature. Although the character of the wilderness surrounding the strict Puritan community at Marks 4 Boston may have lured Dimmesdale and Hester into their sin, the role of this setting changes throughout the novel. It becomes a sanctuary compared to Dimmesdale’s truggle between good and evil in his decision whether to confess his hidden sin or not.
The Puritan community in which Dimmesdale ministered served only as a place of his anguish and evil within for him, while the wilderness served to be a safe haven and place of goodness for the sake of his sanity. It also served for the ignition of his more emotional relationship with Hester. Therefore the integrity of Dimmesdale’s heart comes to be the developing factor to his character. As minister of Boston, Dimmesdale held the identity of the community; he was the epitome of holiness. All arishioners of the community looked to him to be the carrier of people’s sins and sufferings.
However, unlike Hester who had openly the “A” on her chest allowing open repentance, Dimmesdale had no outlet for his evils enclosed in his inner heart while trapped by Puritan society and he was wearily clouded with guilt. He stood on no scaffold because he lacked the courage to confess he had trespassed against the sanctity of his position and his community. This when shed real light upon reveals that the setting itself caused Dimmesdale to betray his own heart and state of mind rather than anything else. Life in society served no assistance to Dimmesdale in his struggle of the human condition that is good against evil.
Not any repetition of self- flogging or fasting could bring Dimmesdale closure to his actions. Ironically the setting that provided him with his anguish of sin gave him the “moral blossom” of humanity that Hawthorne regards (56). This is love. The culmination of Dimmesdale’s triumph ot evil came in his torest conversation witn Hester where their love is tlnally fully culminated. They are revealed Marks 5 as completely human and represent in a sense a new Adam and Eve. Both couples ad sinned together and had been punished for having violated the rules of their setting.
Both Dimmesdale and Hester were fraught to bring an end toa close with the society in which they trespassed against, much as like Adam and Eve were reduced to a compromise with God himself after violating his one law in their setting of the Garden of Eden. However, regardless of what was to be of their fate, both pairs always were to be perpetually bonded. The sanctity of Hester and Dimmesdale’s relationship was fully revealed in the way the sin they committed together created a similarity in compassion for one another and a need to help one nother.
After seven years of no contact between Dimmesdale and his love, the confirmation that Hester gives Dimmesdale that she still loves him is the help that allows Dimmesdale to finally confess his sin. Therefore, it is truly the nature of man to require human love that allows Dimmesdale to finally triumph the evil he suffers and confess at the final scaffold scene. The knowledge that he was loved in midst of all the suffering he had experienced allowed for an end to a close to the situation created by sin and all the evils that surrounded him and Hester. Hester Prynne and
Arthur Dimmesdale represented the human condition to turn to temptation; in this case it was against the Puritan community, making it necessary for the strife each Hester and Dimmesdale had for their redemption, bringing them ever so close together in their love. A romance is specifically defined as an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity (“Romance”). Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s love for one another came to an apex through the struggle they faced together in their setting in Puritan society and the trials of the human condition it brought Marks 6 forth.
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