Puritanism and Romanticism in the Scarlet Letter

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, John Winthrop Pages: 3 (1054 words) Published: November 12, 2012
Hidden Elements: Romanticism and Puritanism
Dark. Light . Bland. Spontaneous. Restricted. Free. Puritanism. Romanticism. Those characteristics are comparing two major beliefs in the nineteenth century: Puritanism and Romanticism. Characteristics such as "dark, bland, restricted" describe the authoritarian principles of Puritanism. In contrast, "light, spontaneous, free" depict the more liberal beliefs of Romanticism. As witnessed in his novel, Hawthorne’s root as a Puritan allowed him to comprehend Puritan's strict teachings and successfully corporate that into his writing. For example, Puritans' oppressive lifestyle prohibits an individual to turn to human intercourse for lust and enforces the fact that God is everything; one must obey God's will and he is the universe of his followers. Nevertheless, even though his ancestors were Puritans, Hawthorne expresses his admiration balanced with concerns regarding their strict practice, through his novel, The Scarlet Letter. Written in the nineteenth century, a period when Romanticism was at its acme, the novel possesses many Romantic and Puritanical natures. Through The Scarlet Letter's syntax and diction and the portrayal of its characters, the novelist successfully incorporates Puritanism and Romanticism into his famous book. In the story, Hester Prynne and Pearl are the emblematic of Romanticism while the male protagonist, Arthur Dimmesdale, is the representation of Puritanism. Syntax and diction have the ability to reflect the author's belief; which in this case: Romanticism. From the very first words of the novel, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray steepled-crowded hats..." (Hawthorne 45), Nathaniel Hawthorne already expresses his opinion toward Puritans as he depicts their clothing using negative connotation such as "sad-colored" and "gray". These words reveal to the readers that Hawthorne viewed the Puritans as a sad and gloomy group in society. To...
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