The Theme of Adultery
The theme of adultery has been used in a wide range of literature through the ages. The fact of adultery has been a part of the human existence for as long as there has been marriage, so this is hardly surprising. As a theme it brings intense emotions into the foreground, and has consequences for all concerned. It also automatically brings its own conflict, between the people concerned and between sexual desires and a sense of loyalty.
The novel The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was an objective description of the life of Hester Prynne, an adulterer. The novel does not go into specific details of the thoughts of the woman except to describe the tragic nature of her character. Tragedy faces the fact that not everything in life ends happily. Therefore, tragedy raises questions about morality; what is considered right or wrong, the meaning of human existence, and the control human beings have over their own actions. Hester is a person that has lead a very tough life for which she, herself is to blame.
Hester Prynne was accused of a great sin. With almost no exceptions, the ridged townswomen are unhappy with the mildness of her punishment. Throughout the Scarlet Letter, she faces humiliation by the other people of Boston, but never loses her sense of pride. Hester Prynne suffers enormously from the shame of her public disgrace and from the isolation of her punishment; however, she retains her self-respect and survives her punishment with dignity, grace, and ever-growing strength of character.
Theme in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" written by James Thurber is a short story that takes place during the trying times of World War II. Thurber's description of Walter Mitty is of a married older man who lives in a town called Waterbury and has an imagination of a three-year-old. In this excerpt of Walter Mitty's life we are able to see into his mind and ...
Hester’s pride is what keeps her from losing all that she holds dear; therefore, it can be said that her tragic flaw is her excessive pride. Throughout many years of her life, the people of her town considered Hester an outcast. Her daughter feels these repercussions, Pearl, as well, because she has no friends. Throughout the book, Pearl went through many things, even name-calling and rock throwing. Pearls behavior could be described as abnormal, disrespectful, undignified, or altogether opposite of most Puritan customs. “The child could not be made amenable to rules”, she will not conform to the Puritan view of what a child should be like. Pearl’s enduring disobedience is representative of Hester’s disobedient act. Pearl should be constant reminder of personal sin to everyone that meets her; however, as it would be, she only reminds others of Hester’s sin. Around strangers, and at certain times at home, this poor child becomes merely an “unpremeditated offshoot of a passionate moment.”
Pearl would also make her own A to wear, and sometimes she played games with her mother’s, trying to hit it with rocks. When Hester would go into the town with Pearl, the other children would make fun of her, and Pearl would yell and throw dirt at them. In this treatment, Hester was in a way being punished for her wrongdoing. Some may say she was getting what she deserved, but others hold her punishment as being to harsh and unbearable. Through everything Hester and Pearl underwent in their lives, they proved that strength and perseverance could overcome any nemesis if the effort is there. In conclusion, Hester Prynne was a strong woman who possessed a great deal of integrity and strength. Her probity was manifested by the way she projected herself, even when faced with public disgrace. On the outside, it would seem as though the letter did nothing to hurt her pride. The reader doesn’t know what Hester felt internally, but he does know that she felt the brand of the letter deep in her heart, as if it had become a part of her. However, this did not affect how she carried herself. Hester Prynne always had a sense of pride, dignity, and self-respect that surrounded her being and told all who encountered her she was filled with probity.
The Letter A is a mark of punishment and humiliation. However , Hester Prynne carries the symbol upon her with a very different out look than the puritans intended. Hester and the Puritans both have strong feelings for this Scarlet Letter but both will not come to terms and define a universal meaning for this strong symbol. The Puritans intend this A to be a disgrace to Hester Prynne. To make the ...
The experience of Hester and Dimmesdale recalls the story of Adam and Eve because, in both cases, sin results in expulsion and suffering. But it also results in knowledge—specifically, in knowledge of what it means to be human. For Hester, the scarlet letter functions as “her passport into regions where other women dared not tread”, leading her to “speculate” about her society and herself more “boldly” than anyone else in New England.
As for Dimmesdale, the “cheating minister” of his sin gives him “sympathies so intimate with the sinful brotherhood of mankind, so that his chest vibrate in unison with theirs.” His eloquent and powerful sermons derive from this sense of empathy. The narrative of the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is quite in keeping with the oldest and most fully authorized principles in Christian thought. His “Fall” is a descent from apparent grace to his own damnation; he appears to begin in purity. He ends in corruption. The subtlety is that the minister is his own deceiver, convincing himself at every stage of his spiritual pilgrimage that he is saved.
The rosebush, its beauty a striking contrast to all that surrounds it—as later the beautifully embroidered scarlet A will be–is held out in part as an invitation to find “some sweet moral blossom” in the ensuing, tragic tale and in part as an image that “the deep heart of nature” may look more kindly on the errant Hester and her child than her Puritan neighbors do. Throughout the work, the nature images contrast with the stark darkness of the Puritans and their systems.
Chillingworth’s misshapen body reflects the anger in his soul, which builds as the novel progresses, similar to the way Dimmesdale’s illness reveals his inner turmoil. The outward man reflects the condition of the heart.
Although Pearl is a complex character, her primary function within the novel is as a symbol. Pearl herself is the embodiment of the scarlet letter, and Hester rightly clothes her in a beautiful dress of scarlet, embroidered with gold thread, just like the scarlet letter upon Hester’s bosom. Parallels can be drawn between Pearl and the character Beatrice in Rappaccini’s Daughter. Both are studies in the same direction, though from different standpoints. Beatrice is nourished upon poisonous plants, until she herself becomes poisonous. Pearl, in the mysterious prenatal world, imbibes the poison of her parents’ guilt. The clashing of past and present is explored in various ways. For example, the character of the old General, whose heroic qualities include a distinguished name, perseverance, integrity, compassion, and moral inner strength, is said to be “the soul and spirit of New England hardihood”. Now put out to pasture, he sometimes presides over the Custom House run by corrupt public servants, who skip work to sleep, allow or overlook smuggling, and are supervised by an inspector with “no power of thought, nor depth of feeling, no troublesome sensibilities”, who is honest enough but without a spiritual compass.
Journal, You should have seen Hester's face when she recognized me, I could see the fright in her eyes. She must have thought I would confess my real identity to these good Puritan citizens, but no, I shall not bring shame to myself, I would rather her hold the self-afflicted burden she carries upon her breast as she has been forced to do so. My only grief is that this 'A', which is the symbol of ...
Hawthorne himself had ambivalent feelings about the role of his ancestors in his life. In his autobiographical sketch, Hawthorne described his ancestors as “dim and dusky”, “grave, bearded, sable-cloaked, and steel crowned”, “bitter persecutors” whose “better deeds” would be diminished by their bad ones. There can be little doubt of Hawthorne’s disdain for the stern morality and rigidity of the Puritans, and he imagined his predecessors’ disdainful view of him: unsuccessful in their eyes, worthless and disgraceful. “A writer of story books!” But even as he disagrees with his ancestors’ viewpoint, he also feels an instinctual connection to them and, more importantly, a “sense of place” in Salem. Their blood remains in his veins, but their intolerance and lack of humanity becomes the subject of his novel.