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Critical Essay on The Scarlet Letter

Hawthorne is just that, the tragic story of Hester Prynne, a women found guilty of adultery, her rejection, public humiliation, and her inner feelings and the effect on her community in 1850. It is a tragic story. Hawthorne tries to bring some hope into the story, but largely it is a book of despair. With skill, he shares the paradox in human nature and sets off his romantic ideas against the rigid religious Puritan culture. The main question is why Hawthorne had to give it a tragic end? Was it essential to the success of his communication? I do not think so.

Hester is the principle character in the story line. She is branded and adulteress and must wear a scarlet A on her dress. Yet she is a strong likeable person. As Hawthorne develops his story, she goes through difficult times. We are given insight into her conflict and herself rejection. This creates an empathy for Hester and creates the desire that she finds happiness. As she is the tragic hero in the story, it becomes clear that she will not find happiness. Her downfall is inevitable, but such is Hawthorne’s power that you keep hoping she will overcome. Hawthorne deliberately hints to possible redemption.

Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale plan to escape and make their way to England. Hester deeply loves him and in England they could live free of the shame place on her by this puritan community. In England, their love would be “legitimate.” Instead, Dimmsdale confesses his sin in the matter and dies. The community is engulfed with the scandal and Hester leaves. Later she comes back and lives on her own until she dies.

Had Dimmsdale lived and taken her to live in England, would it have damaged Hawthorne’s communication? I don’t think so. The story was about Hester’s nature, the human paradox, and the “human condition.” Hawthorne is showing that suffering, tragedy is the essence of man’s being, and human nature will always find that is so.

I think in this book nothing shown about human nature would have been undermined if it had ended well. Life is filled with suffering caused by human nature, yet it is also softened with times of love, laughter and joy. In my view I would have seen their escape as evidence that no matter how dark the night there is at least the moon, if not noonday sun.

Hester’s self-image and Dimmsdales conflicting behavior and desires are tremendously insightful and they are interesting subjects. They would be no less so if Hawthorne had allowed them to get to England. There they would have been able to be free of the stigma of the scarlet letter, giving hope to people trapped in bigoted communities that there are other places and other people with different views. They would have shed light on their experiences and feelings, and given insight into a more realistic picture of life. The result is that Hawthorne admirably explored a part of live and the human nature. However, it is only part, because life consists not only of rejection despair fear and death that is only part of it. He did not have to give it a tragic end to make his point.

The Scarlet Letter essay writing tips:

  1. Research information from a wide variety of sources. Collect more than you can use.
  2. Then take out relevant material and re read it. When you are satisfied, you have what you need then you are ready to write.
  3. Highlight critical details from your material and write your thesis statement. Ensure you make it clear and concise.
  4. Write your introduction, and develop your outline. Limit your paper to three major sections where you use your important points. To these points add your details and arguments, and ensure you keep a logical flow.
  5. When finished write your conclusion.
    Use the body points of your essay to bring your paper to a clear conclusion.

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Jun 5, 2014

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