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Individual Freedom: the Scarlett Letter

In: English and Literature

Submitted By anaslv
Words 1186
Pages 5
North American Literature 2014-2015.

Individual Freedom restricted by Puritans. Analysis of Hester, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. [Nathaniel Hawthorne; The Scarlet Letter]

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to analyze how Nathaniel Hawthorne deals with the theme of freedom focusing on the major characters such as Hester, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. I argue that, there is a sign of individual freedom due to the fact that all the characters have the right to act in the way they do it but they will be always suppressed by the decisions of the Puritans. I also argue that, there is no collective freedom in terms of society because Puritanism restricts, punishes and judges individual actions.

Key words: major characters, individual freedom, suppressed, no collective freedom.

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, is constructed by the main themes of isolation and suffering. Moreover, sin and the Puritan law are narrowly connected, making the wish of freedom almost an impossible achievement. Over the course of the novel, Hester is the only one who truly manifests her right of individual freedom. However, she has been punished by the Puritan law, which considers her attitude as a threat to the Puritan community and its religion.

Hester’s freedom starts since the moment she decides to carry her punishment in New England and not going back to England, where she could have lived a new life without feeling guilty. Furthermore, her self-determination gives her enough strength to use silence as a weapon, and thus not revealing who Pearl’s father is.

Hester’s freedom progresses throughout the novel. It all begins after coming out from prison, when Hester wears a stunning embroidered A on her breast which symbolizes pride instead of shame. What is more, her attitude, while she is on the scaffold carrying the small...

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