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The theme of sin and morality in nathaniel hawthornes novel the scarlet letter

  1. The matronly women who stand among the residents of Salem and who have come to see the adulteress stand on the scaffold see Hester as deserving greater punishment than that meted out by the magistrates.
  2. They indicate that society can regulate our conduct by means that are at any rate less brutal than mere physical force.
  3. No fewer than three times in the course of the novel does he repeat that idea. Innocence and Sin's Consequences are also seen in the novel.

Set in Puritan New England in the 1600s, Hawthorne is largely addressing the theme of the individual versus society.

Hawthorne is writing the novel in the 1800s, during the Romantic period.

This time period shows a shift in focus within culture, moving from a communal mindset to a more individualized focus. Hawthorne's uplifting of the individual is captured in his tale's. The Scarlet Letter is the best known and most read novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne's uplifting of the individual is captured in his tale's moral, "Be true, be true, be true.

  • He keeps a close watch on his movements;
  • His inflamed and tender conscience is able to regulate his outward behavior, keeping him in fact "safer within the line of virtue, than if he had never sinned at all" p;
  • His novels and stories show that sin in all its forms has a devastating effect on those who commit it;
  • The guilt that Hawthorne felt over the actions of his ancestor had an enormous impact on his writings;
  • He is really a fallen angel trying to maintain divinity, though he has primarily lost it.

In this sense, she is contrasted with Dimmesdale, who sacrificed his individuality for the sake of society's acceptance. Themes of Guilt vs. Innocence and Sin's Consequences are also seen in the novel. Hawthorne is at times ambiguous about his definitions of "sin" and "guilt," however.

The novel seems to explore different levels of sin, showing different consequences accordingly. Hester wears her consequence with pride, and, remaining true to herself until the end, is able to change the people's opinion of herself and her sin.

Dimmesdale hides his sin, and his consequences therefore are also hidden until the end. However, his sin is not just against society's rules. He also sin by denying himself for the sake of society.

His consequence is more severe -- a growing weakness that ends in his death. Chillingworth's sin is against others -- a sin aimed at causing pain.

Like Dimmesdale, his sin is secret and the consequences are slow and hidden, concluding in his own death as well. Several conflicts are developed in the novel to demonstrate these themes. Hester versus the townspeople or society is a main, external conflict. We also see internal conflict within both Hester and Dimmesdale, and they wrestle within themselves to be individuals.

  • All he can see there are the false images of himself that he presents to them;
  • Then she talks of The consecration of their love-affair.

Another major external conflict is Dimmesdale versus Chillingworth, as Chillingworth tries to enact revenge on Dimmesdale. All of the main conflicts are resolved in the final scene -- Hester and Dimmesdale are able to reveal their true selves to the town, Dimmesdale is able to escape Chillingworth once and for all, and Hester is finally able to move on from her past.

There are some minor conflicts as well. Hester and Pearl have to fight early in the novel to stay together.

What is the plot and theme of the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne?

Hester and Pearl also have conflict with each other, as Pearl is both her mother's blessing and curse. Arguably, Chillingworth is in a losing battle with himself as he pursues revenge.

Reading on The Scarlet Letter

Hester and Chillingworth also have conflict with each other, due to her affair and then her promise to keep his identity a secret. The Scarlet Letter does seem to have two distinct plots.

  • The minister dies after he confesses, and the woman is left to her solitude;
  • The story line of The Scarlet Letter is a big part of what truly makes the novel an allegory;
  • The greatest part of her frustration is the failure of her plan of escape because of Mr;
  • His 'Fall is, to be sure, a descent from a state of apparent grace to damnation; he seems to begin in purity—he ends in corruption; he may have been a whole man— at his death, he is in a state of spiritual disintegration.

The plot following Hester and her conflicts would be the main plot. We consider this the main plot for several reasons: Hester is the character most focused on, Hester is the character wearing the scarlet letter, and Hester is the character seen in the first and last scenes of the novel.

Themes in The Scarlet Letter

The subplot would be Dimmesdale's conflicts. He has a secret scarlet letter, he is also experiencing conflict in connection with his sin, and he is also seen in the final scene.

These two plots intertwine throughout the novel, though both have distinct rising action, climax, and resolution.