The Destruction Caused by Isolation
According to Biblical accounts, God created the world and humankind. One of the central elements of this creation was the establishment of community and relationships within humanity. Genesis tells of relationships between humanity and God, between man and woman, and between humanity and nature. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they were isolated from God, in conflict with one another, and repelled from the Garden of Eden. This isolation was the consequence of their sin. One of the major themes in The Scarlet Letter is the isolation and destruction of relationships of the characters living in this fictional Puritan community. This isolation is portrayed by Nathaniel Hawthorne through three major characters: Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth.
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne emphasizes Hester Prynne's isolation as a consequence of her sin. The reader knows nothing of Hester's previous life before she was shunned by the rest of society, stressing the separation her great offense caused. "In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she had inhabited another sphere or communicated with the common nature by other organs that the rest of human kind" (Hawthorne, 36). This quote describes the social isolation Hester faces and the emotional suffering of being an outcast. This social isolation is due to a moral isolation because she has committed adultery, also making her a prime example of a sinner in the town magistrates' sermons. Most obviously, Hester is isolated physically in that she lives on the outskirts of town.
Another major character who faces isolation is Arthur Dimmesdale. His isolation is primarily because he is living a lie. He...
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