Structuralism – Scarlet Letter

The novel Scarlet Letter is set in a village in Puritan New England. The main character is Hester Prynne, a young woman who has borne a child out of wedlock. Hester believes herself a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, arrives in New England very much alive and conceals his identity. He finds his wife forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as punishment for her adultery. After Hester refuses to name her lover, Chillingworth becomes obsessed with finding his identity. When he learns that the man in question is Arthur Dimmesdale, a saintly young minister who is the leader of those exhorting her to name the child’s father, Chillingworth proceeds to torment him. Stricken by guilt, Dimmesdale becomes increasingly ill. Hester herself is revealed to be a self-reliant heroine who is never truly repentant for committing adultery with the minister; she feels that their act was consecrated by their deep love for each other. Although she is initially scorned, over time her compassion and dignity silence many of her critics.

The story is a cliche example of a protagonist who manages people to take her side common in eastern story making like Journey to the West where a buddhist monk manages to befriend his enemies and helped him, Zhu Bajie and Sun Wukong. The novel was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, famous for criticizing the Puritan way of life, the novel takes small jabs all throughout the story, pointing out the prejudice that is way too much for a lone person to handle, wherein people judge in God’s place, which absurd in itself, just like how Hawthorne implies in most of his works.

The story today is a vague representation of modern society, wherein atheist donate more money to charity and participate in worthy causes more than the members of the different religions, wherein charity is always a common belief. It is darkest under the lamp, people judge the sins of others as they tend to overlook theirs. A society wherein the members of the community who are ostensibly the most respectable are often the most depraved, while the apparent sinners are often the most virtuous.

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