October 24th, 2012
The Scarlet Letter
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.” Buddha spoke the truth. His words are still true today; people become the thoughts that travel through their minds, whether that is detrimental or beneficial varies on the person. This phrase is demonstrated in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Through a story of love, shame, and suffering, Nathaniel Hawthorne takes us through the journey that the body undergoes as the mind carries burdens and distress. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne proves to us that state of the body reflects the state of the mind, whether thoughts are secret or open. Hester Prynne’s burden is worn on the outside of her body and not in her mind, thus relieving her of any physical hardships. While it is true that Hester experiences shame and isolation from society, she never experiences any physical pain or struggling. Her pain, whenever present, is completely removable because of the token she wears on her breast: the Scarlet Letter. Hester can easily remove the letter and all of her internal suffering will vanish: “The stigma gone, Hester heaved a long, deep sigh, in which the burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit. O exquisite relief!...There played around her mouth, and beamed out of her eyes, a radiant and tender smile, that seemed gushing from the very heart of womanhood. A crimson flush was glowing on her cheek…as if the gloom of the earth and sky had been the effluence of these two mortal hearts, it vanished with their sorrow.” (158)
In this passage, Hester feels an enormous feeling of relief by taking off her token of shame. Since she wears her burden on the outside of her body and not internally, she can remove any feelings of remorse or mental torment. Hawthorne describes the burden “departed from her spirit,” indicating that by simply taking off the Scarlet...