The Scarlet Letter
Shaming and social stigmatization are key issues in The Scarlet Letter, with both Hester’s public humiliation and Dimmesdale’s secret shame and fear of exposure.
The novel was contentious when it was first published in the 1850s (it was even banned by the Russian Czar). This is because of Hawthorne’s portrayal of Hester as a whole person with needs and feelings. You wouldn’t expect people to adopt the same approach now.
The Scarlet Letter is a fictionalized version of a true story. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, on the other hand, blended actual Puritan events and sentiments documented in historical documents into his writing, exposing elements of truth and providing credence to his historical novel.
The irony here is that by not admitting her lover’s name, Hester stays true to her morals. However, Dimmesdale violates his values by not confessing his sin.
Dimmesdale, tormented by shame and remorse, writes his own scarlet letter on his breast, revealing the irony.
Hester transforms the Scarlet Letter into a magnificent symbol of her bravery, desire for life, and outrage at being compelled to wear it. She will not give up her life to the town’s verdict. She wears the letter because it is demanded of her, but she makes it colorful in defiance of those who have condemned her.
Roger arrives in New England
Hester believes she is a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, arrives in New England alive and well, hiding his true identity.
As a punishment for her adultery, he discovers his wife wearing the scarlet letter A on her dress.
The Scarlet Letter has never been out of print since it was first published in March of 1850.
Perhaps the beauty of The Scarlet Letter comes in the layers. It comes in layers of meaning and the uncertainties and ambiguities of the symbols and characters. These have remained popular generation after generation.
Lauren holds a master’s degree in literature and has taught English at the university level.
The novel is by Nathaniel Hawthorne is set in 17th-century colonial America. However, it was written in the nineteenth century.