Conflict in Nathaniel Hawthorne's the Scarlet Letter

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Conflict in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
Conflict can take on many forms in one’s life, such as conflict with self, with society, with religion and with others. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, develops the theme of conflict through the moral sin of Hester Prynne. Conflict is observed through Hester’s difficulties with the townspeople, challenges with the Puritan way of life, struggles with herself and tensions with Roger Chillingworth. Committing sin in the Puritan society leads to a great deal of conflicts.

Conflict is first observed through Hester’s ongoing difficulties with her fellow townspeople. Hester receives ridicule from on looking townspeople, as a gossiping woman states, ‘ “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead” ’ (Hawthorne 45). This statement reveals that the women believe Hester’s punishment is too simple and she should suffer more severe consequences. The women do not see the moral action behind Hester’s sin, which initiates the conflict between the townspeople and Hester. The conflict continues when Governor Bellingham confronts Hester about being an unfit parent as he states, ‘ “Were it not, thinkest thou, for thy little one’s temporal and eternal welfare, that she be taken out of thy charge, and clad soberly . . .” ’ (98). The Governor’s main concern is about what will benefit himself. This quality is observed in his unjust treatment of Hester. He takes advantage of her seamstress skills, yet is judgmental about her parenting. This creates conflict for Hester as the Governor is unfair to her. The issues that arise between Hester and the townspeople are simply the beginning of Hester’s struggle with conflict.

Conflict is seen once again when Hester struggles with the strict Puritan way of life. Hester’s punishment for her committed sin is revealed when it is stated, “In Hester Prynne’s instance, however, as not unfrequently in other cases, her sentence...
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