In his puritan society, Hester begins to

In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays Hester Prynne as the ideal Romantic hero through her the symbolism of the scarlet A on her bosom. With the conformities by her puritan town, Hester’s struggle is established by people’s label given to her. Throughout the story Hester symbolizes different transcendentalist views such as individual versus society and having Pearl portray innocence versus sophistication similar to Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau’s position on transcendentalist views. The scarlet A worn by Hester Prynne contributed to her struggles with the comforties set by her Puritan society. This is shown when Hester and Dimmesdale are in the forest together holding hands. Nathaniel shows that the love between Hester and Dimmesdale are a sin which relates to the transcendentalist idea. Due to Dimmesdale reputation in society, he fears having to publicly admit his sins, but hold hiding his sins continues to hurt him mentally and physically. Nathaniel Hawthorne mentions “is there not shade enough in all this boundless forest to hide thy heart from the gaze of Roger Chillingworth?” This quote relays an example of a transcendentalist belief of individualism versus society. After years as being rejected by his puritan society, Hester begins to understand how senseless the rules of her town is. Comparing Nathaniel’s work to Emerson’s essay “self-reliance” and “Nature”, they both display the importance of individuality and innocence that can be achieved in nature. When Emerson mentions “the sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child,” it relates to Pearl’s innocence. Emerson’s quote is important as it is an analogy for The Scarlet Letter. Hester would be the “man” who does not truly understand the purpose of the sun, but only sees it for its beauty. However when Pearl looks at the sun, she is able to see the truth as the transcendentalist view states that nature’s truth is best seen through innocence. This refers to when Hester attempts to take off the scarlet letter A in the forest, but Pearl fails to recognize Hester without her scarlet letter A. Henry David Thoreau’s essay is comparable to Nathaniel’s view on transcendentalism since Henry believes that being associated with society does not show a person’s true identity. In his essay, he states that “instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary  eat but one…” This illustrates how the comformites set by society restrict people’s true identity. Hester is also affected by this issue as she has a label given to her due to her actions. However, as Hester became mentally capable and stronger, people began to “refuse to interpret the scarlet A by its original sophistication. They said it meant Able…” Even though Hester has earned the town’s respect, she still understand the sins that she has committed and will never escape it. Even though she attempts to escape to the forest with Dimmesdale and start over, she continues to burdened by the scarlet A permanently engraved into her. Escaping in the woods and realizing that she can’t escape the truth supports David’s claim that truth can best be found through individual experience and contemplation away from society’s corrupting influence. Nathaniel Hawthorne, ralph Waldo Emerson, and David Thoreau shared common beliefs on romanticism and transcendentalism. Hawthorne conveys his views of individualism versus society through Hester and her sins she has committed while Emerson illustrates how being away from society allows an individual to understand truth. Thoreau supports both of the author’s claim in his essay and truly believes that people should not let society be the judge of and individual’s identity, but find one’s true identity in nature.


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