Scarlet Letter

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Amy Sheehan
Mr. Frye
English 11 Honors
3 February 2012
Clever Title
The physical and emotional strain resulting from sex out of wedlock seems to be an almost unbearable burden. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, and her daughter Pearl deal with the emotional abuse from her townspeople because of an affair with Dimmesdale. All of the harassment takes place in a small town in Boston, Massachusetts. In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the reoccurring image of a circle/sphere probes the thought that humanity is following a cycle of cruelty that has never been broken.

The use of actual objects to distinguish the pattern of isolation reoccurs often. Isolation plays a key factor in The Scarlet Letter, usually being hinted at with assistance from the image of a circle or sphere. In some instances, the cycle of isolation appears in nature: “Did the sun, which shone so brightly everywhere else, really fall upon him? Or, was there, as it rather seemed, a circle of ominous shadow moving along with his deformity, whichever way he turned himself.” (172). The sunlight refuses to fall directly on Chillingworth because of his impure body structure. The shadow casting off of him foreshadows the death he will later face. Nature isolates Chillingworth because he seems to be dark creature. Hawthorne does not just use circles and spheres in nature, he also uses them through Hester’s other possessions. Pear also plays a part in the reoccurring isolation symbol. “But she names the infant ‘Pearl” (85). In the beginning, Hester was isolated because of her sin. As the book goes on, she realizes that society continues to exclude not only her, but her daughter as well. A pearl represents a small spherical object grown in the comfort of an oyster’s mouth. In essence that is exactly what Pearl is. The only life she has known is one of complete distance from the rest of society. If someone shows her kindness, or acceptance, she would not...
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