The Scarlet Letter - Elements of Dark Romanticism

Topics: Transcendentalism, Puritan, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 2 (690 words) Published: September 13, 2012
The novel, The Scarlet letter, can be described as both a psychological romance as well as a historical novel. This story takes place on a puritan settlement in 17th century Boston. At this time, Puritans believed in living by the bible and that God drew the soul of man to salvation. They also viewed nature as "evil" or "corrupt". On the contrary, Transcendentalist/Romantics rejected Puritan religious attitudes and admired nature. They also believed in a higher knowledge than that achieved by human reason as well as saw a direct connection between the universe and mankind. For those reasons, I believe The Scarlet Letter is a perfect example of the Dark Romanticism/Transcendentalism genre. These characteristics are shown throughout the novel in the actions of our characters as well as the dialogue within the story. "... had so early borne the black flower of civilised society, a prison. But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems..."(pgs.41-42) In this quote, the black flower and the prison represents Puritan society, with its moral rules of conduct. The rose bush symbolizes the individual, standing defiantly on their own in spite of the society against them, much like Hester and Pearl. The rosebush also shows that there may be a human impulse that cannot be destroyed, but can survive in people despite social order. This characteristic of depending on nature for knowledge is greatly favored among romantic/transcendental genres. “Dost thou think I have been to the forest so many times, and have yet no skill to judge who else has been there? Yea; though no leaf of the wild garlands, which they wore while they danced, be left in their hair! I know thee, Hester; for I behold the token..."(pg.189) this is another sign of nature for knowledge. The "witch", Mistress Hibbons relied on nature for her wisdom, which was a "sin" among the Puritan people....
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