Scarlet letter themes essay

The Scarlet Letter also became intensely popular upon publication because it had the good fortune of becoming one of America's first mass-published books. Before The Scarlet Letter, books in America usually were handmade, sold one by one in small numbers. But Hawthorne's novel benefited from a machine press, and its first run of 2,500 copies sold out immediately. As a result, then, The Scarlet Letter benefited not only from its implicit controversial subject matter but also from an unusually large available readership. Readers who agreed or disagreed with the book's choices, however subtly, could spread the word. The novel became the equivalent of a seminal political tract--and the subject of endless discussion and debate, no doubt influencing social change. The novel also benefited because of Hawthorne’s support and respect among New England's literary establishment (he would soon become good friends with Herman Melville). Thus, the novel became popular not only with the masses. It was heralded as “appropriate” reading despite its attention to adulterous love.

Hester Prynne's offense against society occurred seven years earlier, but she remains punished for it. Hester learned to forgive herself for her adultery, but society continues to scorn her for it. (One might remember Jean Valjean's permanent identity as criminal after a single minor crime in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables .) Indeed, Hester reaches peace with her affair and in that peace comes to see the town as insufficiently forgiving in its thoughts and attitudes. Pearl is enough of a reminder of the wild choices in her past, and as Pearl grows up, Hester continues to live in the present rather than in the past. Reverend Dimmesdale, meanwhile, is haunted in the present by sins past and seems to reflect (along with Chillingworth) the town's tendency to punish long after the offense. In suppressing his own confession, Dimmesdale remains focused on coming to terms with a sinful past instead of looking squarely at the problems of the present.

The Scarlet Letter was also one of the first mass-produced books in America. In the mid-nineteenth century, bookbinders of home-grown literature typically hand-made their books and sold them in small quantities. The first mechanized printing of The Scarlet Letter , 2,500 volumes, sold out within ten days, [11] and was widely read and discussed to an extent not much experienced in the young country up until that time. Copies of the first edition are often sought by collectors as rare books, and may fetch up to around $18,000 USD .

In The Scarlet Letter , all the good stuff goes down in the woods. Secret trysts? Head to the wood. Major confessions? Head to the wood. Need to gather some medicine that actually works? Yep, head to the woods. Nature is almost like a character, personified as listening, commenting on, and interacting with the other characters. At the same time, it can be menacing. The Puritan community is like an island surrounded by nature, bordered on one side by a huge expanse of woods, home to Native Americans (the Wampanoag tribes); and on the other the big blue Atlantic Ocean.

Scarlet letter themes essay

scarlet letter themes essay

In The Scarlet Letter , all the good stuff goes down in the woods. Secret trysts? Head to the wood. Major confessions? Head to the wood. Need to gather some medicine that actually works? Yep, head to the woods. Nature is almost like a character, personified as listening, commenting on, and interacting with the other characters. At the same time, it can be menacing. The Puritan community is like an island surrounded by nature, bordered on one side by a huge expanse of woods, home to Native Americans (the Wampanoag tribes); and on the other the big blue Atlantic Ocean.

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