Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter

Literature: Scarlet Letter

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Adultery, betrayal, promiscuity, subterfuge, and intrigue, all of which would
make an excellent coming attraction on the Hollywood scene and probably a pretty
good book. Add Puritan ideals and writing styles, making it long, drawn out,
tedious, wearisome, sleep inducing, insipidly asinine, and the end result is The
Scarlet Letter. Despite all these things it is considered a classic and was a
statement of the era. The Scarlet Letter is a wonderful and not so traditional
example of the good versus evil theme. What makes this a unique instance of good
versus evil is that either side could be considered either one. Hester could
very easily have been deduced as evil, or the "bad guy," as she was by
the townspeople. That is, she was convicted of adultery, a horrible sin of the
time, but maybe not even seen as criminal today. As for punishment, a sentence
to wear a scarlet "A" upon her chest, it would hardly be considered a
burden or extreme sentence in present day. Or Hester can be seen as rebelling
against a society where she was forced into a loveless marriage and hence she
would be the "good guy," or girl, as the case may be. Also the
townspeople, the magistrates, and Chillingworth, Hester's true husband, can be
seen in both lights. Either they can be perceived as just upholding the law -she
committed a crime, they enforce the law. On the other hand are they going to
extreme measures such as wanting to take Pearl, Hester's daughter, away just
because Hester has deviated from the norm, all to enforce an unjust law that
does not even apply to this situation? Although the subjects of the novel do
apply to important issues in history and could have had influences on the time
period, they were not great. During the times and in the Puritan community this
did not have a large affect on anything. Sure, they did not want anyone
committing adultery, most were killed if convicted, but it was not something
that upset their way of living in any permanent manner. To an individual or
group who was battling something backward in the Puritan society, as were many
things, this would have been an inspirational book and possibly a revelation. In
short, this book could have been exceptional; it had all the elements of a
superb book. Unfortunately, Hawthorne found himself a rather large thesaurus and
added a bunch of mindless prattle that mellowed out the high points of the book
and expanded on the low points. In many chapters all he manages to accomplish is
to update the lives of characters, mostly with irrelevant drivel. Also by
expanding on the symbolism of the scarlet letter umpteenth times he wears it out
so that the reader wants nothing more to do with a dumb "A" on some
woman's chest hundreds of years ago. Other than that, great book.
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