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Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Examining the Conflict of Good versus Evil in Young Goodman Brown

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story entitled Young Goodman Brown is about a man who takes his journey to the forest to attend a special congregation—without knowing its real purpose in his life. Goodman Brown, the narrative’s protagonist believes that his faith is constant, true, and immovable, but as he takes his journey to the forest, readers realize that the main character’s faith is depthless. He creates evil thoughts throughout his journey, which makes his faith weaker, especially when he encounters the prayerful and vigilant people of his community during his walk. As he steps into the forest to attend the congregation, the evil starts to shake his faith and begins to disrupt his beliefs. The conflict of good versus evil is…

Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1804. His parents were Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Elizabeth Clark Manning. His father dies of yellow fever when he was four years old. He then grew up in the manning household with his grandparents, uncles, and aunts. Nathaniel Hawthorne was fond of taking long walks by himself and reading excessively. He studied Shakespeare, Pope, Milton, and Thompson. He went on adventures while he took these long walks and he wrote about his adventures, this is how his writing skills developed. When Nathaniel Hawthorne turned 15 he moved to Maine with his uncle and later attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick. While in college he did poorly in most classes accept his literary…

Both Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne

Both Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne may be classified as writers of the gothic fiction genre in English Literature. Gothic literature is characterized by themes of darkness, such as death, dread and decay. In Poe’s short story The Tell-Tale Heart, death is a central concern. The protagonist is simply obsessed with the idea of committing murder. Instability and insanity are also very typical of gothic fiction, and the protagonist embodies both qualities in spite of his repeated insistence that he is quite sane. The architecture in this story is also quite Gothic – it is falling apart and is quite gloomy and dim. The use of the floorboards to hide the old man’s body echoes the gothic elements of…

Nathaniel Hawthorne

For the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne the most explored theme of all his writings is the imperfect spirituality of man and the pervasiveness of sin throughout creation. Both of the stories under analysis here, Young Goodman Brown and The Minister’s Black Veil, feature a young reverend as the central character of the work and a Puritanical community in New England as the setting. Both of the tales are allegories centered on the ambiguity of human spirituality and on the ubiquity of sin in creation. Young Goodman Brown is an allegory about the deep mystery of sin, for which the author makes use of all available suggestive elements, from the setting- a deep and gloomy forest in New England, to the…

On the Symbolism of The Scarlet Letter

Introduction: Nathaniel Hawthorne is a great romantic novelist in America in the 19th century. His novel, The Scarlet Letter, is considered as the first American psychological novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It reveals the psychological insight with which Hawthorne proved guilt and anxiety in the human soul. The Scarlet Letter is deeply concerned with ethical problems of sin, punishment, and atonement. The background of the story is set in Salem, Massachusetts, a strictly controlled Puritan town with harsh laws and fierce prejudices. Hester Prynne, a young wife whose husband is presumed dead, is being publicly humiliated for the sin of adultery. The proof of her sin is her baby girl Pearl. She conceals the identity of Pearl’s father to protect…

Good and Evil in Scarlet Letter

“Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It’s a constant struggle as to which one will win. And one cannot exist without the other” (Burdon). The novel _The Scarlet Letter_ perfectly illustrates this point using complex and intricate characters that mirror reality with both positive and negative aspects of their personas. The story begins in mid-17th century New England with Hester Prynne being publicly humiliated for having a child out of wedlock. She is branded with a scarlet letter “A” as an adulterer but refuses to disclose who the father is. Soon after, Hester’s former husband shows up under the pseudonym of Roger Chillingworth and makes Hester promise not to tell anyone who he…

“The Scarlett Letter” Citation

In Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, the quote “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.” stands true in many forms. Both Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, prominent characters in the novel, convey this two-faced nature in the countenance of an overbearing Puritan society. It is this inner conflict, existing within all humans, that eventually brings about the downfall of these characters and to a large degree sheds light upon the human condition. Dimmesdale, the personification of “human frailty and sorrow,” is young, pale, and physically delicate. An ordained Puritan minister, he is well educated, and he has a philosophical turn of…

“The Scarlet Letter” – Thesis

One main theme present in the work “The Scarlet Lette” is that of sin and guilt. Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to show how guilt can be a form of everlasting punishment. The book represents sin and guilt through symbolism and character development. In his novel, “The Scarlet Letter”, Nathaniel Hawthorne explains how the punishment of guilt causes the most suffering among those affected. As with any piece, symbolism plays an important role in representing the main ideas of a novel. The plot in “The Scarlet Letter” revolves around three significant events that describe the development of the story. As both starting point and ending point of the novel, the scaffold scenes hold symbolic meaning. The first scaffold scene introduces the reader…

Character analysis of Hester Prynne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne is a complex novel with in depth characterization. This analysis is about Hester Prynne, the main character and focuses on three of her attitudes, appearance, and morals. Hester’s physical appearance is developed and referred to often throughout the novel. Hawthorne paints a picture for the reader of Hester’s beauty. She had dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it through off the sunshine with a gleam and a face regularity of features and riches of complexion, and the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes. (Hawthorne, 50) The author also describes Hester as being of modest decorum. “With almost serene deportment, therefore, Hester Prynne passed through this portion of her ordeal,…

The Fortunate Fall in Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”

Sin, according to the concept of Felix culpa or the fortunate fall, is necessary in human life. Its entire idea is based on the fact that, in order to achieve greatness, man must first “fall”. He who rises above his offense evolves both spiritually and morally. In The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne presents the character of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in such a humane way that, instinctively, their suffering and pain becomes a strange object of interest and pity. The manners in which their distress occurs, however, are entirely different. While the reverend undergoes a deep torment of the soul, one that leads to his climatic revelation, the adulteress experiences misery through social estrangement. Either way, both the frail…

Scarlet Letter Literary Paper

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1850, is a product of the literary struggle between Classicism and Romanticism. Classicism is based upon writing in a traditional tone that involves no emotion, while Romanticism is the idea of letting emotion flow through literary outlets, such as a novel. This struggle is plainly embodied in the character of Hester Prynne, who must contain her passionate personality to the guidelines placed before her in a strict Puritan society. Within a Puritan society, committing a sin is viewed as the worst possible thing one could do and one must be punished accordingly for it. “In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne turned back to the age of his first American ancestor for a historical…

Witchcraft In The Scarlet Letter

Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne continually uses witchcraft and the devil as a theme. Hester Prynne, the main character, emerges from a prison in the first few pages of the book. So from the very beginning, it is known that she has committed a great sin of some kind. Many other characters other than Hester also have a connection with the dark side. It is this association with the devil that eventually brings about the demise of one of the major characters. Although most of the characters are trying to repent during this story, there is still a link between them and the devil throughout the story. Hester Prynne was guilty of adultery. In the Puritan colony of Boston,…

The Heroism Of Hester Prynne

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter focuses on seven years in the lives of four people living in a puritan community in seventeenth century Boston. Hester Prynne, the wife of Roger Chillingworth, falls in love with the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale and the two have a child, Pearl. The novel explores the effects of adultery on these four characters. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is the surmounting of difficulties that makes heroes.” A hero has the qualities of loyalty and bravery, and he is always willing to make great sacrifices for the well being of others. Hester Prynne possesses all of the qualities of a true hero in this novel. One quality of heroism is loyalty. Hester Prynne reveals her loyalty…

Moral Law Vs Natural Law In The Scarlet Letter

Moral Law Vs. Natural Law “At the dramatic center of The Scarlet Letter is the idea of the awesomeness and inescapability of the Moral Law, to which all else is finally submitted,” (Levy 384). Assuming that Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter exploring the relationship between Moral law and Natural law, he chooses the moral laws to be absolute. Using definitions of nature and character provided by Seymour Katz applied to the terms natural law and moral law allow an extension of Leo Levy’s claim that Moral laws are supreme. Moral law is an internalization of normalizing aspects of society it, “is acquired in time through nurture, education, and social experience. The older the individual the more fixed and stable is…

Romanticism in “The Scarlet Letter”

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 imagination and emotion, and the low regard Hawthorne holds for organized religion and all that it entails. In his novel, Hawthorne builds on the standards of romanticism, as the trend away from Puritanism and religious Oligarchy. One of the essential, driving elements to Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, is the deeply rooted romantic value associated with Nature, with all of its innocence and Purity. Thought the novel, it becomes evident what poor and corrupt…

Chiaroscuro in The Scarlet Letter and “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Mother, said little Pearl, the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. In Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne has committed the sin of adultery and wears a scarlet A on her chest to condemn her. Hawthorne develops the personalities of Hester Prynne, Pearl, and Arthur Dimmesdale by using the function of light and dark images in his writing. In Edgar Allan Poes The Fall of The House of Usher, the House of Usher is presented in the eyes of the narrator as a dark, foreboding house, and in an effort to reason in order to see things in a brighter light, looks into a mirror,…

“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the book, “Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne has an affair and bears a child. This shocked the Puritan community deeply and she was forced to live alone with her child, Pearl, in the forest. After seven long years, she is incorporating herself back into the community due to her superb sewing skills. Although she is somewhat accepted into the community again, she cannot stop her passionate feelings for her lover, the Minister Dimmesdale. Her individual beliefs conflict with the society of the Puritan community, and demonstrate the idea that individual belief should not be overruled by society because society deems it wrong. These beliefs are so strong that she is willing to commit suicide rather than have…

Individual vs. the Society in “The Scarlet Letter”

In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the theme of the individual versus society is prevalent. One of the most intriguing characters in the novel is Hester Prynne, who is ostracized by the society around her. Hawthorne uses symbols to accentuate how Hester chooses to accept her branded punishment as a moral obligation rather than a mark of shame. Her individualism is achieved through a clear conscience and accepting the fact that she is unique, distanced from the Puritans surrounding her. Immediately, The Scarlet Letter sets up a clear contrast between Hester and the other ladies in Boston, Massachusetts. Hester emerges from the prison as a gorgeous woman who was, “tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large…

Hidden Guilt Abolishes Selfhood

Those who keep their sins and feelings to themselves cause themselves only anguish and despair. In The Scarlet Letter, a romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a young man who achieved fame in England as a theologian and then immigrated to America. In a moment of weakness, he and Hester Prynne, a young, beautiful, married woman whose husband is away in Europe, become lovers. Although he will not confess it publicly, Dimmesdale is the father of her child; also, he deals with the guilt by tormenting himself physically and psychologically, developing a heart condition in the process. Dimmesdale is an intelligent and emotional man, and his sermons are thus masterpieces of eloquence and persuasiveness. His commitments to his…

The Scarlet Letter Character Analysis – Hester Prynne

Of all the characters in The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, the protagonist, is the strongest and most courageous. But, that is not to say that she is unsusceptible to change. Over the course of the novel, Hester remains unchanged in some areas, such as strength and honesty, but her beauty and social status vary greatly. One trait that defines Hester throughout the novel is strength. Strength in the mind and also in the heart is what makes Hester a striking person in a gloomy society. This strength was inside of her all along, but it is the scarlet letter that eventually brings it to our attention. During the first scaffold scene, Nathaniel Hawthorne notes her “natural dignity and force of…

No one person is perfect

No one person is perfect. Mistakes, just like water, are an essential part of life. It’s not for our faults that we should be judged; rather it’s the way we learn to accept our human nature and change for the better. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritanical novel, The Scarlet Letter, the main character, Hester Prynne, commits an offense of infidelity against her husband, Roger Chillingworth. From then on her secret affair with the Puritan minister will always be on her mind considering the degradation she was subjected to and the infamous letter that will be forever embedded on her bosom and her child Pearl — the fruit of her sin. Hester was a woman that was well ahead of her time;…

Scarlet Letter’s Among Society Today

There are many types of “scarlet letter’s” in modern day life that apply to all in any given society. A type of “scarlet letter” in today’s society is none other than appearance and self-presentation. Another “scarlet letter” that all people are subjected to, especially earlier in life, is popularity and recognition. One more “scarlet letter” example in modern day society is money. Appearance and presentation has involved itself in society too much. If certain people in society don’t like an appearance or a first impression on specific people, then that person usually is not spoken to or acknowledged too often. It’s because too many people in modern life don’t look at the inside of a human being; they look at…

Motifs in “The Scarlet Letter” by Hawthorne

In a novel of sin and redemption, symbolism is used to broaden the significance of certain aspects. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses a barrage of themes, motifs, and symbolisms. These images help to unify the novel and enrich the meaning behind the work. Early in the novel, Hawthorne refers to iron, oak, chains mainly to demonstrate the Puritanism that takes place in the novel. However, he also uses these symbolic items to display the bonds between characters and what they believe in. In the first paragraph of the novel, Hawthorne describes the prison door “which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes” (Pg. 33) to flaunt the austerity and illustrate what times were like right off…

“A” for Alienation

Alienation is a common theme in all writing; however, in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, never has alienation been so vividly accounted. The Scarlet Letter is a story about Hester Prynne, a woman who commits adultery against her husband named Roger Chillingworth, with the local reverend named Arthur Dimmesdale; the result is a strange child named Pearl. The plot thickens as the mistress and the reverend strive to keep their sin a secret, and as Chillingworth appears back in town hiding his true identity; it climaxes on a scaffold where all secrets are revealed. Alienation is a heavy theme throughout the book, and it adds an incredible twist to see it’s affect on the characters. Alienation is portrayed through…

The Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne

Hester Prynne and the Aftermath of her Eternal Symbol How would you feel if you were rejected by a whole city, and nobody wanted you? Well although it might be counterintuitive in his novel The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne is stating that sins can help us change for the better only if they are unveiled to the world. This story takes place in the late 1600’s, and is about Hester Prynne’s pains and sorrows after committing adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne has a daughter, Pearl, and her legitimate husband is Roger Chillingworth, a man who dedicates his time throughout the story to torment Dimmesdale. Early on in the story we are introduced to Dimmesdale, and we find out that…