The Scarlet Letter Individual Vs Society Essay

Posted on by Tara

The Individual Versus Society In The Scarlet Letter

The Individual vs. Society in the Scarlet Letter

The society we live in today grants us a variety of freedoms. No one tells us how to think or what to believe in. We decide what clothes to wear, what to do on Sundays and our religion – with no law to persuade us. These permissive decisions would not be looked highly upon in stern Puritan Society. There is no sense of individualism in 1600s Salem because laws envelop every bit of human society. With all these severe rules in place, there are bound to be rebellious actions. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne addresses the theme of an individual’s struggle against society by implementing three symbols: the wild roses, the scarlet letter and Pearl.
In the beginning of the novel, Hawthorne describes a wild and saintly rose-bush next to the prison. This rose-bush, by some odd occurrence, has stood the test of time and all of man’s activities. Even with all of society’s hideous constructions, such as the ugly and rusty prison door, it is still blooming and well. “But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in…” (Hawthorne 35). A reference to Anne Hutchinson is another reason why this rose bush is a symbol of an individual’s struggle against society. Hawthorne recognizes Anne as one of the possible reasons why the rose-bush sprang up next to the prison. “…or whether, as there is far authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson as she entered the prison-door, we shall not take upon us to determine” (Hawthorne 36). Hawthorne bestows Hutchinson because she was a true individual who, despite angering Puritan leaders, fought for her own beliefs.
One of the consequences of Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin is the scarlet letter. Its lone purpose is to forever remind Hester and everyone else about her iniquity. The letter marks Hester as an exile in front of society, almost every word, action, and gesture society expresses to Hester implies that she is an outcast. The “A” on her bosom has made Hester a representation of woman’s frailty and sinful passion. It incites the Puritan Society to shun Hester and constantly insult her. Even when she sacrifices her time to be charitable towards the poor, they revile her and the ladies of Boston also treat Hester with hostility. Hawthorne explains the malicious situation towards Hester in this quotation,
The poor, as we have already said, whom she sought out to be the objects of her bounty, often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succour them. Dames of elevated rank, likewise …were accustomed to distil drops of bitterness into her heart, sometimes through that alchemy of quiet malice, by which women can concoct a subtle poison from ordinary trifles, and sometimes, also, by a coarser expression, that fell upon the sufferer's...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

The Role of Nature and Society in The Scarlet Letter

967 words - 4 pages Whispers Hester, “Hold thy peace, dear little Pearl!...We must not always talk in the marketplace of what happens to us in the forest” (359). This conversation takes place a few days after Hester and Dimmesdale’s tryst in the forest; indeed, whatever happens in the forest must remain hidden from the public. In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne expressly forms a strict distinction between nature and society, essentially glorifying nature and...

The Puritan Society in N. Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

1519 words - 6 pages In the introductory sketch to Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel the 'The Scarlet Letter', the reader is informed that one of the author's ancestors persecuted the Quakers harshly. The latter's son was a high judge in the Salem witch trials, put into literary form in Arthur...

Hester's Alienation from Society Depicted in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

996 words - 4 pages Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the moral and social values pertaining to the discrimination of females by society is revealed through the alienation of Hester Prynne, the main character in The Scarlet Letter. During The Scarlet Letter, Hester is punished for her adulterous relationship with Reverend Dimmesdale which results in a child named Pearl. As a result of the adulterous relationship, the authorities of The Puritan society that she is...

Hypocrisy of Puritan Society in the Scarlet Letter

964 words - 4 pages Biswas 1Ishan BiswasMr. AskewEnglish 10, Period 18 October 2014Hypocrisy of Puritan SocietyIn Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850), Hawthorne satirizes Puritans and Puritan belief by showing the flaws of the community. He mainly targets the inability to forgive and spiritual pride. The members...

The letter A in the scarlet letter

606 words - 2 pages Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter deals with many themes, among those including punishment and death. Utilizing the theme of punishment, the central character, Hester Prynne, was forced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter on "her bosom" for the rest of her life as a sign of her...

Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

2319 words - 9 pages Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter "The common definition says that a symbol is a sign or token of something… We take symbols like these pretty much for granted. They are a part of everyday experience. In literature, matters are a little more complicated. Literary symbols usually don’t have instantly recognizable meanings. Rather they take their meanings from the work of which they are part" ("The Scarlet Letter" 8). An example of...

Romanticism in "The Scarlet Letter"

612 words - 2 pages A Scarlet RomanceIt is the year 1644, Boston Massachusetts, and the stage is set for one of the most famous romance novels of our time. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne set a genre standard for American Romanticism, with an intrinsic love of nature, sense of freedom of...

Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter

1270 words - 5 pages Symbolism can be defined as a figure, character, or object that is used to represent complex or abstract ideas. By expressing an idea in the form of an image, the reader can visualize the concept more concretely. The old expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” applies to symbolism as the author creates a visual representation of ideas. The use of symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter helps to illuminate the overall...

Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter

916 words - 4 pages Symbolism in the Scarlet LetterSymbolism in the Scarlet Letter Abstract: The Scarlet Letter is the first symbolic novel in America playing a very important role in studying symbolism in American literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne used symbolism through this work to imply his opinions and hopes about Puritanism. This article aims to study two main...

Symbolism in the Scarlet Letter

916 words - 4 pages Symbolism in the Scarlet LetterSymbolism in the Scarlet Letter Abstract: The Scarlet Letter is the first symbolic novel in America playing a very important role in studying symbolism in American literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne used symbolism through this work to imply his opinions and hopes about Puritanism. This article aims to study two main...

Romanticism in The Scarlet Letter

1590 words - 6 pages A Puritan’s Folly“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.” -Malcolm Muggeridge. This famous quote justifies that to be an individual, one must break from society and think for himself, and only when he has done this, is he truly alive. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is about a courageous woman, Hester Prynne, and...

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates the need for humans to abide by the laws of nature and conscience, rather than the laws of man, to achieve happiness.

The laws of nature, enforced only by the human conscience, govern every individual. Humans learn these laws by experiencing and interacting directly with nature. When left alone on the beach, Pearl pelts small birds with pebbles for amusement. However, when she injures one "she [grieves] to have done harm to a little being that was as wild as the sea breeze" (160). Pearl learns an important lesson about right and wrong by using nature and her own conscience. The remorse she feels leaves a lasting impression far more powerful than punishment from authority. Nature provides clear examples for children to learn from and on which to base their morals. By learning from nature children can use their conscience instead of the rules of authority to learn the difference between right and wrong. Left alone in the forest, Pearl interacts with various animals which accept her because they "all recognized a kindred wildness in the human child" (185). This 'wildness' refers to Pearl's natural childhood environment free from the pollution...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 899 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7123 literature essays, 1987 sample college application essays, 295 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “The Scarlet Letter Individual Vs Society Essay”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *