The Scarlet Letter Themes
It was a belief that people are born sines in Puritan society. Moreover, puritan preachers stressed the life which is hanging on the fire of hell metaphorically. To escape from falling into the fiery pit of hell of fire, Puritans applied strict law. Every person in the Puritan society was alert about committing sins and about their fellow townspeople. Anyone who sinned against the scripture like adultery was punished by death.
However, Heater was not executed for committing adultery with and Dimmesdale. The Puritan society made her a living example of a sin-bearer with a sign of the scarlet letter. She was a living sermon against sin according to the Puritan officials.
Though the embroidered object, Scarlett’s letter was a shame, with her positive spirit she turned the symbolic meaning of the Scarlett letter from pain to strength.
The changing of the symbolic meaning of the Scarlett letter into positive strength, Hester poses the question of what is the meaning of sin, who are the true sinners in the novel? Hester believes that what she has done with Dimmesdale is not sin because she wishes to rekindle her romance with him fleeing to Europe and living there together with Pearl.
The author supports Hester and points out the real sinners in the novel. Chilling worth is the of the two main sinners who don’t forgive and torment Dimmesdale, who is another sinner, mentally for committing adultery with Hester.
Conformity and individuality
If the theme is individuality in the novel, then Hester suits the best to fulfill it perfectly. In the novel, she remains alone after she is thrown out of the Puritan society for making an affair with Dimmesdale. The harsh law and strict rules in the Puritan society push Hester to be individual making the theme of individuality possible.
Her individuality was confirmed by the Puritan society which demanded conformity because it considered that any breach of the rules is a threat to the society’s security and religion. Frailty fluid to Hester strongly that she fails to conform. A conscience to her breaking conformity she receives hatred, rejection, punishment, and humiliation from the townspeople.
Hester was only an example of showing the other the result of breaking the conformity that drops her to individual life.
However, nothing could snuff out her love for Dimmesdale and strong acceptance of having Pearl as a gift.
It is clear in the Scarlett letter that there is a conflict between individuality and conformity versus appearance and reality. All Puritans seem to be very conformist and harsh to maintain the law. They pretend to be highly respectful of their religion. However, it is just the opposite of what they practice. It seems that it is only a way to hide the reality of their flaws, frailty, and sins I. Order to avoid being punished.
Puritanism has a special concern in the novel. Puritanism is the foundation of the novel and all the characters are the actors of the law of puritanism.
The narrator presents Puritan society as a critical even disdainful, confining, unforgiving and narrow-minded den of demons. this society unjustly victimizes Hester and abandons her. By the law of Puritan society, Hester was put behind bars and the same law released her. The narrator describes Hester as a woman of natural dignity. The natural strength of Hester is highly esteemed in the novel which the Puritan society could not suppress.
The scarlet letter which is a symbol of shame shows the narrow-mindedness of the Puritans. For Hester, the Scarlett letter is a token of shame which she overcomes with her inner trust in the Lord. The Puritans only showed external rules but in them, there was no sense of devotion towards God which Hester showed though she was considered to be a sinner.
Nature is a very important topic to highlight in the novel which contrasts with the Puritan society. Puritan society is filthy, unnatural, hypocritical, and deformed. On the other hand, nature is pure which doesn’t judge and punish but forgives and accepts. Nature about which the narrator talks about is forgiving and flexible while puritanism is rigid and merciless.
At the beginning of the novel, the narrator produces a clear contrast of nature’s treatment: in front of the prison there is a black flower which symbolizes to punish sins and the rose bush shows forgiveness to those who get sentenced to death.
Nature as the theme of the novel takes a prominent place which continues with the forest outskirt Boston. The forest is recognized as a unchristianized and lawless area. This place avails generously to the people who are stricken by the law of Puritan society and provides solace to their hearts. Hester, pearl, and hobbits come to this place to feel love, acceptance, and peace in the heart. This is the place where Hester and Dimmesdale reunite- the only place of forgiveness and acceptance.
The foremost association the people of Boston have is the infamous witchcraft. The scarlet letter has also dealt with the grandeur of witchcraft and also the occult. Seeing Pearl, Dimmesdale talks about her understanding of their life. In consolation to Dimmesdale, she says that Pearl barely understands their conversation and life. Meantime they see her playing in the forest with the animals where she fits well. Hester calls out her name to meet her father Dimmesdale. Hester often talks about the black man which represents the occult. Many times in the novel Pearl is considered an occult who behaves like an occult. Her mother also believes in that sometimes. According to the narrator, Pearl is a living hieroglyphic. Chillingworth also sees that when Pearl walks she does not touch the ground. The presence of the occult is very openly described in the novel.