The Scarlet Letter Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 62 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Scarlet Letter.
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The Scarlet Letter is a novel that describes the psychological anguish of two principle characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. They are both suffering under, while attempting to come to terms with, their mutual sin of adultery in a strict Puritan society. As critics immediately recognized upon publication of the novel in 1850, one of its principal themes involved conflict between the individual and society.

Hawthorne represents the stern and threatening force of Puritan society in the first sentence of the first chapter, where he describes a "throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray," who stand before the prison door "which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes," and behind which was Hester. Hawthorne symbolizes the force of the Puritan's civil and religious authority in this "prison-door," which is indeed the very name of the chapter. Yet outside the door, symbolizing Hester...

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This section contains 1,199 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Scarlet Letter Study Guide
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The Scarlet Letter from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.