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The Scarlet Letter Evil and the Second Sense

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 05, 2004

In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn the society of a Puritan town of Salem excludes anyone who is in any way deviant and renders that person sinful. However, the society, the townspeople themselves, is not without fault. However they try to conceal and contain their passions and all their faults because of their fear of exclusion. All the characters in the book that are excluded from society are the most "natural" and true and possess a second-sense perception and almost magical intuition.

Hester Prynne's separation from the townspeople is both physical and mental. She is expelled from the town as an adulteress, and she goes to live with her illegitimate daughter to a cottage "not in close vicinity to any other habitation." (68) They are despised by the whole town. Even children throw stones at them and chase them down the street. People do not dare to come close to Hester because of the mark as an outcast. To the townspeople, Hester's character is something different and uncertain from the values that they are used to. "Wherever Hester stood, a small, vacant area - a sort of magic circle - had formed about her, into which ¦ none ventured, or felt disposed to intrude." (206) Hester is destined to forever wear a scarlet letter "A" on her chest - "A" for "adulteress" - a sign of her sin, shame and separation from the righteous people.

However, by being separated from the Puritanical town of Salem and all its prejudices, Hester is able to look at the people objectively and see much she was not able to see before. "Walking to and fro, with those lonely footsteps, in the little world with which she was outwardly connected, it now and then appeared to Hester that [the scarlet letter] gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts. (73) The people of the town are so busy covering up their faults and hiding their human passions, that they cannot see their own or each other's faults. Hester, who wears her Cain's mark of exclusion openly, does not have to worry about the opinion of others, and gains an intuition - an insight into the hearts of the people who throw her out.

Hester's mark of shame becomes a mark of being different, a mark of nonconformity. Many people interpret Hester's "A" as "Able" (141), for Hester's natural...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/05/2004

Category:   Scarlet Letter

Length:   7 pages (1,495 words)

Views:   7246

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