The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in 1850. It was based on the Puritans of the 1600's, which were revived in Hawthorne's era. Hawthorne descended from Puritan heritage and harbored a sense of guilt and hatred for their way of life. He used many themes and literary techniques in The Scarlet Letter including symbolism and irony. He emphasized the individual's role in the community and the role of women in society.
Hawthorne used romanticism as opposed to the classical correctness of writing. Romanticism was an artistic and intellectual movement that originated in the 18th Century and stressed strong emotion and imagination. Puritanism was the belief that all humans are ...view middle of the document...
She was beautiful, stubborn and independent. Hester Prynne lived up to the name of Hawthorne women, who are reputed to be stronger than the men they shared their love with.
Hawthorne used much symbolism. One of the most complex symbols in the book is Pearl, the daughter of Hester Prynne. Pearl develops into a dynamic symbol - one that is always changing. Among the most obvious of Pearl's symbols is her name. Pearl represented its name's sake, a precious jewel. Pearl was a child of nature. Her fantastic and devilish ways are the main sources for her mother's joy and pain.
"Pearl has for every reader some unreality too, she has something of the supernatural about her. She is the sunshine in her mother's life, and yet her pouts and scowls, her frenzies and her furies, are not the least of Hester's desperations." (Doren, p.135)
She could not be contained or controlled as one might imagine a child born under such circumstances would be. Pearl also represented adultery, love and sin.
Hester, for her sins, received a scarlet letter, "A" which she had to wear upon her chest. This was the Puritan symbol forpunishment, an adulterer. The punishment continued as Hester walked through the streets. She was looked down upon but the fact that Hester committed adultery was soon forgotten to society. What was once an ignoble "adultress" became an "able" woman.
The able seamstress settled in a secluded piece of barren land. This represented the situation she was in: shunned and unwanted. The landscaping in The Scarlet Letter is also symbolic. The rosebush by the jail is a major symbol. It represented Hester and freedom. The decrepit jail...