Hello! I am writing a literary analysis on the Scarlet Letter. The topic that I chose was "point of view." I was seeking help on what could possibly be the point of view given by society.
I would think that society sees Hester as a scapegoat for their own sins. So they would ridicule her as a way to either make themselves feel better or forget their sins. Because it is natural for all humans to sin.
Society also sees what they want to see.
Would this be right?
Or are there some other things which I would need to expound on?
All answers would help me greatly!
3 Answers | Add Yours
In the Puritan world, there was no real forgiveness of sins--short of public punishment and shame or even death. In such an environment, the discovery of secret sin was feared above nearly everything else. One way to deflect attention from one's one sinfulness is to point out--loudly and forcefully and with some satisfaction--the sins of others. That's exactly what happened here, though we never have the benefit of knowing others' specific sins. Well, except for hypocrisy, cruelty, witchcraft...you get the idea.
The point of the community's making Hester an example to be scorned so that they feel better about themselves is a valid one. After all, one of the themes of Hawthorne is his criticism of the hypocrisy of Puritanism. So, perhaps you may wish to research the tenets of Puritanism as well as Hawthorne's life, and pursue your analysis of the society based upon some of these tenets and the practice of Puritans.
And, the point that the members of the society perceive what they wish is valid, as well. For instance, the governor lives in splendor, which the Puritan religion frowns upon. His sister is a witch, but no one castigates her. When the Reverend Dimmesdale confesses to being a sinner on his pulpit, the congregation loves him all the more for humbling himself on their accounts. It is ironic that only the marked sinner, Hester Prynne, is honest about her sin, protecting her Pearl, who acts as the living symbol of her sin.
Society is very important in this novel isn't it?
If there were no judgment from society, their would be no emotional backbone to Hester's character. Society has taught her to become an independent woman as well as a free thinker. Without society she wouldn't have made the decision to turn her situation around and actually do good. Without the judgement Hester might have blown off the idea of her sinning and wouldn't have made it known since wouldn't have mattered to anyone else. She wouldn't have grown from this experience. Hester even tells us that all should go through so type of struggle that lets us learn from our mistakes and gives us a better perception on life.
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