March 22, 2000
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are two novels, which address similar themes with completely opposite resolves. The authors use their main characters, Hester, Dimmesdale, Gatsby, and Daisy, in their respective works to present these themes. The action in both novels revolves around unfaithfulness, its effects on the characters, and the results of committing adultery, which prove to be antipode from one novel to the other. These antitheses can be found by a look at the different roles of adultery in the novels.
One major theme found in both novels and addressed in different ways is adultery. Unfaithfulness is ever present in The Great Gatsby, while it is a one-time occurrence in The Scarlet Letter. It would appear that this would make adultery a more powerful force in The Great Gatsby. On the contrary, it is seen as insignificant in Fitzgerald's novel and definitive in The Scarlet Letter. Whether it is Tom and Myrtle, or Gatsby and Daisy, the fact that these people are wed appears irrelevant to them. Meanwhile, Hester and Dimmesdale have sex as part of a meaningful relationship, but are persecuted for it. These varying reactions are caused partially by the extreme contrast of environment between the two novels. Another factor is the different degrees of conscientiousness and its importance between the novels. Hester and Dimmesdale repent and seek forgiveness for their sins. They use their experience to make them better people, and by the end of the novel, both find themselves free of guilt. On the other hand, the characters in The Great Gatsby show no remorse for their actions and the pain they cause. No attention is paid to the feelings of others. Tom and Daisy have a daughter together, but she is hardly mentioned amongst their promiscuity. Hester and Dimmesdale are able to bring joy out of their pains, while Daisy and Gatsby suffer pain from their...