Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is a passionate, romantic writer. Although on an unconscious level, he uses his own feelings to bring depth into his works. He uses writing as his own defense mechanism; escapism. Escapism is a defense mechanism that uses cultural arts to deal with difficult emotional problems in a safe, but imaginary world. In this way, it is the ego satisfying both the id and the superego. His book, The Scarlet Letter, is a piece that allows closure for a confusing phase in his life.

The Scarlet Letter opens with the heroine, Hester Prynne, already being sentenced for her crime of adultery. She holds her three month old baby, Pearl, whom we already know is the daughter of a man who will not show himself. Hester's lost husband appears not far after the book begins, introducing himself under the false name of Chillingworth. In the same scene, Hester's lover, Dimmesdale, is introduced as the holy priest of their Boston town. Setting this into Hawthorne's own life, parallel's can be made. Hester, Hawthorne's mother, is a strong, beautiful woman. In Re-reading the Letter: Hawthorne, the Fetish, and the (Family) Romance by Joanne Diehl it says that The Scarlet Letter was written as part of Hawthorne's mourning process for his mother. In his own life his father died young; Hawthorne was raised by his mother alone. Without a father figure present during his phallic stage, Hawthorne's id, his desire to possess his mother, grew. The only means by which he had to suppress such yearnings was by the superego telling him it was unacceptable in society. The problem with suppression is that it is only placed into the preconscious, and thus, is still attainable. Here is where Chillingworth comes into play. He is the villain in the tale but, he is also wronged. Hawthorne shows that the 'father' is viewed as the enemy, because his oedipus complex puts him there, but he also knows that it was unfair that his real father died young, losing his chance to be a father....
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