The Scarlet Letter: the Message in the Meteor

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The Scarlet Letter is a classic book whose lessons have endured through many generations. It is considered by most to be the masterpiece of Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was a culmination of everything he experienced in his life. He grew up in a household that held fast to Puritan ideals. This affected him in ways he himself may not have even realized. His dislike for the Puritans can be easily observed in this novel. He created this book after struggling for several years to obtain some measure of success as a writer. This book brought exactly that to him. The observant reader can discover the many undercurrents of meaning Nathaniel Hawthorne cleverly placed in this novel. At the climax of the story, a meteor flashes through the night sky. The appearance of this meteor at this particular moment in time contributes to the plot in many ways.

First, Reverend Dimsdale thinks the meteor is a message from God specifically for him. "Nothing was more common in those days than to interpret all meteoric appearances, and other natural phenomena that occurred with less regularity than the rise and set of the sun and moon, as so many revelations from a supernatural source"(149). Any person of that day would have assumed that something of that nature applied to some portion of his or her life. "Then, and there, before the judgment seat, thy mother, and thou, and I, must stand together. But the daylight of this world shall not see our meeting"(149)! Just after those words leave Reverend Dimsdale's mouth, the meteor lights up the sky as bright as day. It's as if God is proving Reverend Dimsdale's words to be false. The light of the meteor resembles the letter "A" to Reverend Dimsdale because his conscience is pricking at him. Subconsciencely he wants to punish himself for his sin since the townspeople can't punish him for a sin of which they were unaware. Therefore, his guilty feelings twist a natural part of creation into a punishment of sorts. He believed the meteor...
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