Scarlet Letter Essay, Research Paper
The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a book of many meanings. The
novel paralleled to Hawthorne’s life, particularly his childhood. He used The Scarlet Letter as a
physiological vent. Hawthorne’s life is greatly reflected throughout the novel. Hawthorne left
traces of his home town’s atmosphere, his psychological well-being, his family life and his habits.
Hawthorne lived a life of guilt in the puritan ages as did his main character, Hester Prynne. He
was also against the puritan government for a portion of his life, as are the two lovers,
Dimmesdale and Hester. Hawthorne was a secluded child after his father died. He was very
sheltered from the real world; therefore, forced to stay within the realms of his mother’s side. The
meteorology, setting, politics, and anthropology in The Scarlet Letter refers in some way to
Hawthorne loved nature with a passion, it was his joy. When he was younger he had an
accident playing ball and was forced to stay inside for a long period of his childhood; this
occurrence only caused his love for the outdoors to grow. The woods in which Hawthorne
played in are very similar to the woods on the out skirts of the town in The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne’s love for the wilderness is greatly shown throughout the novel; Considering the
majority of the novel takes place in the outdoors. Pearl, one of the main characters, who is
paralleled to Hawthorne, feels safe in the woods and sunshine. It is in the woods where Pearl
finds her happiness, playing alone just as Hawthorne did as a boy. Salem, where Hawthorne
grew up, had a climate very similar to Boston’s where the novel supposedly took place. In The
Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne tries to create the same climate as his childhood, setting the seen for an
interpretation of his childhood.
The Scarlet Letter’s plot took place in Boston around the 1640’s. The Boston Hawthorne
created in his writings greatly resembled his childhood home Salem, Massachusetts. Both were
strong puritan towns still developing and growing. Puritan influence was the center of each town.
The church was the government. Not only were the towns the same; but also, the outskirts were
similar. Hawthorne and his mother felt very secluded from the town not because of their location
but more from the actions of the townspeople. The Hawthornes were looked at differently than
others because of their family heritage. Hawthorne’s elders were strongly involved in the
magistrates; also, Mr. Hawthorne died when Nathaniel was four. Hester and Pearl felt the same
way in Boston. Hester was looked at as an outcast because she bore a scarlet “A”. Also, she and
her babe lived alone on the outskirts of town. Hawthorne placed them on the outskirts of town to
exaggerate the feeling he experienced of separation from the town. Hester’s and Pearl’s lives
closely resembled that of Hawthorne’s and his mother’s. Hawthorne wanted to display that he
once lived in that setting.
Hawthorne was very ashamed of his ancestors. William Hathorne was part of the Salem
militia. John Hathorne was one of the three judges at the Salem witch trails; furthermore, the only
judge who didn’t repent after the fact. Hawthorne was so deeply ashamed of his ancestors that he
changed his last name to Hawthorne hense the “W”. Hawthorne naturally had a grudge towards
the magistrates and puritan government. Therefore, in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne made the
puritan leaders of Boston out to be the unfair workers of the devil. He set the government and
their unnecessary rules in the way of Hester and Dimmesdale’s longing to be together.
Dimmesdale was a respected minister in the town, yet disagreed with the seven year law
proclaimed by the magistrates. Dimmesdale was a heart felt Christian as was Hawthorne, yet
disagreed with some of the puritan practices as did Hawthorne in his maturity. Hawthorne clearly
conveyed his views on Puritanism through The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne portrayed his childhood through some of his characters, such as Hester and
Pearl. He created Hester to be as his mother was to him. Hester lived alone and in the shame of
the town. She was also forced to wear an “A” automatically casting her out of the social circle.
Hawthorne felt his mother wore an invisible “A” although she committed no crime. She still
experienced the same loneliness and sorrow caused by being an outcast. Hester was very
protective of Pearl, her daughter. She would keep her near because that was her only reason for
living up to her sin. Hawthorne’s mother also was very protective of Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s
mother would not let him out much to play with other kids or interact in the world in fear of
loosing him. These overly protective actions caused Hawthorne to be independent and
unsociable. Pearl reacted the same way as Hawthorne; she would play in the woods by herself
and would fight with other kids to the point in which they thought she was a witch. Both
Hawthorne and Pearl turned nature into their only friend, their playground, their happiness.
Hawthorne regretted the way his mother raised him and will be ever effected by it. Yet he pitied
her loneliness; therefore, inspiring him to express his feelings in The Scarlet Letter.
The Scarlet Letter was a recap of Hawthorne’s life. For Hawthorne, writing The Scarlet
Letter was a way for him to express his forever damaged past. He clearly relates the
meteorology, setting, political views, and anthropology of the novel directly to his life.
Hawthorne portrays the meteorology of his childhood and that of Pearls by creating the same
woodsy climate where the sun doesn’t shine bright in the face sin. In the novel, Hawthorne creates
the setting to be an almost exact replica of his own in Salem with the puritan influence and snobby
townspeople so quick to judge. The negative political influence on his life is shared with the
influence brought on to Pearl’s. Also, Hawthorne creates Hester in his mother’s image; as well
as, Pearl in his to give the full sketch of his childhood. The Scarlet Letter was a great example of
parallelism and cultural components, none the less was brilliantly written.