Tensions in Hawthorne
What are Hawthorne’s messages? How does he convey them?
Symbol – something that plays a part in a story and stands for a larger idea.
  • Rose by the prison door – a moral lesson
  • Scarlet Letter A
  • Pearl – another version of the scarlet letter
  • Color red – A, Pearl’s clothes
  • Color black – devil, Puritan clothing

Hawthorne’s personal view – Romantic and Transcendentalist
Puritan view
Good – truth of real understanding
Good – light of God’s truth
Bad – Can’t or won’t face reality, or emotional reality
Bad – lack of God, or possible turf of Satan
Good 2 ways:
Romanticism – where emotions are heightened.
Transc. – where it is easier to ponder connections to God, or to the Divine Nature or the universe.
Bad because it isn’t yet God’s land. Therefore, Satan might be there. Things there might be influenced by evil. Native Americans aren’t yet brought into God’s world.
Bad – full of people. Not nature, therefore not trustworthy.
Good – Place where people are actively supporting God’s will.
Society (people in a group)
Group that makes laws necessary for survival.
Potential perfect community to show how people could live according to God’s laws. No concept of separation of church and state.
U.S. citizen – subject to laws of the state
Transc. – Able to make own decisions based on personal truths.
Subject to Puritan community standards and God’s will as interpreted by community leaders.
Men vs. women
For his time, believed in equality of the sexes.
Strict roles defined by the community.
Young vs. old
Young is flexible, symbol of change.
Old may be stuck in their ways.
Old are revered without reference to merit.

Hester stresses her heart = romanticism
Hester makes her own system of morals = transcendentalism