Isolation in the Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 3 (815 words) Published: October 14, 2012
Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne emphasizes the intricate themes of isolation and alienation. Using a variety of literary techniques and descriptions of emotions and nature, Hawthorne is able to fully depict the inner feelings of hurt suffered by the central characters as a result of severe loneliness and seclusion. This, therefore, further adds to the overall gloomy and cynical atmosphere of the work. Isolation and alienation, two forms of torturous estrangement, are experienced by the key figures, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, each due to different situations and to various degrees. Overall, The Scarlet Letter is primarily concerned with the thoughts and feelings of Hester Prynne. Hester, being an outcast of society, experiences the most evident and apparent form of isolation and alienation. As a symbol of sin, Hester is viewed by the strict Puritanical town as an outsider, a presence of evil, and, ultimately, one who is detested by God. The town's harsh condemnation of Hester is revealed through a local woman's comment, "…at the very least, they should have put the brand of hot iron on Hester Prynne's forehead" (36). Although this dire attitude towards Hester does eventually improve, due to her many benevolent works for the poor, she never truly does escape the feelings of lonesomeness and segregation present in her life. This fact is further stressed by Hawthorne's exclusion of all conversation and dialogues, a usage of context and form, in chapter five to demonstrate that Hester has absolutely no communication with the world beyond her occasional trips to town to receive and deliver embroidery orders. Described as "dark and inscrutable." The forest, in contrast, provides Hester with a secluded habitat in which she may seek truth and escape the glares of humanity, though all the while downhearted and alone (54).

A more private and hidden feeling of isolation and alienation is conveyed through Arthur...
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