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Essay/Term paper: Scarlet letter (chapters one through six)

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorn started writing The Scarlet Letter in 1847 and it was
published in 1850. The Scarlet Letter is recognize by many "critics as being one of
the greatest of American novels."1 Hawthorn created his own individual style of
"romance," a style of writing. His own individual style of writing is now called
"Hawthorn's Theory of Romance". His "theory of Romance" is emphasized in The
Scarlet Letter in many different ways. The techniques Hawthorn used in The
Scarlet Letter are basically from his "theory of Romance." Hawthorn uses his
"theory of Romance" in many different ways in The Scarlet Letter.

Hawthorn being a Romantic writer incorporates many characteristics of
Romanticism and also includes his "theory of Romance" in the novel. Some
romanticism ideas he incorporates are those of heroic characters which would
include Hester Prynne "It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary
relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself."2 A heroic
character is "bigger than those found in ordinary life" and also is strong, brave,
noble, risky and powerful. Another characteristic he includes is the writing of
mysterious events such as the adultery of Hester, the birth of Pearl and the return
of her husband Roger Chllingworth.

The uses of the "theory of Romance" by Hawthorn follows an order. The
order is initiated by Hawthorn looking for to write on a serious topic. The topic is
the adultery of Hester, Pearls birth, the revenge by Chillingworth and the
hypocrisy of Dimmesdale. Then he chooses the setting of his characters "On the
outskirst of town, within the verge of the peninsula, but not in close vicinity to any
other habitation, there was a small thatched cottage."3 The small cottage is
Hester's home which is isolated from society. This is a characteristic of a heroic
character which is Hester.

His next step is to choose characters who have lived in real life and to
associate them with fictitious characters. The fictitious characters being Hester
Prynne, Roger Chllingworth, Reverend Dimmesdale and Pearl. The real life
character being Governor Bellingham. "Here, to witness the scene which we are
describing, sat Governor Bellingham himself, with four seargents about his
chair."4 Richard Bellingham was Governor of the Massachusetts Colony in
1641,1654,1665-1672. Another real life character was that of Reverend John
Wilson. "The voice which had called her attention was that of the reverend and
famous John Wilson, the eldest clergyman of Boston."5 John Wilson was one of
the first settlers in 1630 and became a leading Puritan minister. Hester,
Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, Pearl, Reverend Wilson, and Governor Wilson all
associate with one another, two of them being real life characters and four of them
fictitious characters.

After having chosen his characters and settings, now he must describe them
as being a "strange mixture of the real and the unreal." Hawthorn starts out by
describing the main character which is Hester. "The young woman was tall, with a
figure of perfect elegance on a large scale."6 His describing her with having a
perfect figure. Hawthorn then describes Chillingworth "..., at the first instant of
perceiving that thin visage, and the slight deformity of the figure, ... ."7 He
describes Chillingworth with a deformity on his shoulder. Chillingworth has
special characteristic that makes him unreal. That characteristic are his eyes "..., he
felt her pulse, looked into her eyes, -a gaze that made her heart shrink and
shudder."8 Chillingworth's power is with his eyes.

Hawthorn follows his descriptions of Reverend Dimmesdale. "..., half
frightened look,- as of a being who felt himself quite astray and at a loss in the
pathway of human existence."9 Dimmesdale also has an unreal side to his
character and real side too. That unreal side is that of Dimmesdale's voice. "The
young pastor's voice was tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and broken."10 His voice
was so powerful that when he spoke before the crowd in Hester's trial everyone
thought that Hester would confess the guilty name. "So powerful seemed the
minister's appeal that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would
speak out the guilty name."11 The description of Pearl is the next description that
Hawthorn describes. Pearl has no friends and is very evil to her mother and mostly
to everyone "She could recognize her wild, desperate, defiant mood, the flightiness
of her temper, and even some of the very cloud-shapes of gloom."12 The
characteristic that makes her unreal is her wilderness and the tendancy not to obey
what Hester tells her to do "..., that Hester could not help questioning, at such
moments, whether Pearl were a human child."13

Hawthorn's final step in his "theory of Romance" is what he calls
"atmospherical medium." "Atmospherical medium" is the ability to manupulize the
light in the scenery to illuminate the shadows in the scenery. An example of this is
when Hester is let out of jail for her trial. "Open a passage; and, I promise ye,
Mistress Prynne shall be set where man, woman, and child may have a fair sight of
her brave apparel, from this time till an hour past meridian."14 The quote is
saying that after an hour past noon the crowd will be able to see Hester. During
noon the light is very bright and Hester is seen by everybody. Another example is
the stories people would tell about her "..., tinged in an earthly dye-pot but was
red-hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all night, whenever Hester
Prynne walked abroad in the night-time."15 The quote is saying that whenever
Hester would walk at night the scarlet letter would be bright red and it would be
the focus of everyone.

In conclusion, Hawthorn uses his "theory of Romance" in many ways.
His theory follows an order. First to write on something serious, then to write
about the scenery and to choose real life characters and fictitious characters. The
theory then follows Hawthorn describing the characters being real and unreal. And
finally his most important technique of his theory. That technique is his
"atmospherical medium" which is the ability to manipulate the light in the scenery
to illuminate the shadows in the scenery. His theory is what makes him such an
important figure in literature in the whole world. "It is because of his mastery of
that form of fiction known as the "romance" ..."16


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