Romantic Ideals and Hawthorne’s Themes
Isolation is one of the significant themes of Romantic literature, and it is strongly evident in both The Scarlet Letter and “The Minister’s Black Veil,” both of which are written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The term refers to an escape from society or reality, and in terms of these two novels, isolation is referred to as a physical and emotional separation. The Scarlet Letter focuses on Hester Prynne and others as they cope with the different sins and situations that face them. Within this story, Hawthorne uses the ideal of isolation to develop the idea that “We are all sinners alike” by revealing different people’s perspectives on their own sins or on others’ sins as well as utilizing the many natural surroundings which Hawthorne turns into motifs (177). Similarly, in the “Minister’s Black Veil” Hawthorne also uses isolation once again to further his theme that people have a natural tendency to replace the unknown with their own form of knowledge through rumors by using a real-life situation where one man, Reverend Hooper, is separated from his community by a wall of gossip and curiosity.
In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne hinted that he might have a moral to reveal in the ending of the book’s novel. “We are all sinners alike” seems to convey a strong moral in people’s minds as it could refer to so many things. In this particular case, this theme assisted Hawthorne’s use of isolation throughout the novel. When referring to the word sinners, there are several characters that come to mind in The Scarlet Letter. Among these is Hester Prynne, who carries much of the focus of the story with her scarlet letter. She is forced to wear the scarlet letter around her neck due to her adulterous crime. This puts her in a physical state of isolation as people avoid the one who is impure and unfaithful. Already, it is obvious to see a connection between Hawthorne’s theme and the Romantic ideal of isolation. She chooses to...
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