Throughout American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne had a great impact on society. Despite his Puritan upbringing, Hawthorne’s use of allegory, ambiguity, and symbolism depicted the cultural issues of their time. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer from Salem, Massachusetts. He is well known for many of his works, which include The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables, and Young Goodman Brown. As many of his stories took place during the Puritan period, there’s a particular reason for Hawthorne’s chosen era. Since his ancestors came from Salem, some were involved with the Salem witch trials.
This remotely sparked an interest for Hawthorne, as it influenced his writing and creativity. Through the hidden meanings and themes that took place during the Puritan period, one can get a deeper insight into Dark Romanticism. Like many other influential writers and poets, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville, Hawthorne’s stories also contained dark elements. He primarily focused his attention on hypocrisy, sin, guilt, and immorality. The Scarlet Letter would best exemplify on how Hawthorne manages to create a story where one can explore the psychological effects of sin. This particular work shows the life of the Puritans and how their culture had hypocritical tendencies.
As the reader dives deeper into the novel, he/she can get a grasp of Hawthorne’s allegorical work. He uses the letter “A” to symbolize the community’s fixation on sin, as it also signifies adultery. Throughout the novel, each character has endured the pain of physical and internal suffering.
As the “A” is depicted as an allegory, it renders more intricated ideas which Hawthorne formulates in The Scarlet Letter. For example, Hester Prynne, the adulteress, has chosen to live with the fact that she has committed a sin. As she is the living symbol of the Scarlet letter, she uses the “A” to throw hypocrisy back at the Puritan community. Hester is an individual who commits adultery yet continues to live with her mistake. As she faces the harsh judgment and criticism from society, she still manages to show strength and courage which makes her different from the rest.
As for Reverend Dimmesdale, he is portrayed as a weak coward. Here’s a man with power and authority, whose job is to refrain people from sin. However, he contradicts himself which leaves him to internally suffer. Unlike Hester, he does not face public humiliation, as he remains secretive. He is worried that it may ruin his reputation and will have to undergo the harsh judgments from the community as well.