Spheres in Scarlet Letter

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It was once said that “the only living societies are those which are animated by inequality and injustice.” A man named Paul Claudel wrote this in his work, Conversations dans le Loir-et-Cher, and he criticizes the ability to have a functional society. Societies are meant to organize the values of people into a system with uniform laws and expectations; however, societies can never fully achieve this. Claudel only sees societies with dysfunctional characteristics like inequality and injustice. There are always exceptions to the social order because all people are individuals with different life experiences that help define who they are. Nathaniel Hawthorne also criticizes the Utopian ideals that societies often hold in his novel, The Scarlet Letter. The main character, Hester goes astray from the rules of her Puritan town and must wear a scarlet letter on her chest to declare her sin. The scarlet letter isolates Hester from the pressures to conform to society, giving her the opportunity to find her individualistic moral perspective in life and she shares this revelation with Dimmesdale. Hawthorne conveys this concept of individualism through the motif of spheres.

Initially, Hawthorne conveys Hester’s isolation from society which is brought on by the scarlet letter, by putting her in her own sphere. The most noticeable feature of Hester as she exits the prison is the elaborate scarlet letter that is embroidered on her chest. Immediately, Hawthorne mentions that the letter “[takes Hester] out of the ordinary relations with humanity and [encloses] her in a sphere by herself” (46). The language here shows the isolation brought on by the letter because Hester no longer has the same relations with humanity, which in this case signifies the uniform Puritan society. Her interactions with others are altered now that she is by herself. The letter puts Hester in a different world, away from that of society and causes her to be alone. Even people that do not understand the...
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