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Hawthorne’s Tales: How religion/sin is portrayed and how it affects the characters.

Hawthorne tales are short stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne relating to his experience and cultural background during his time. Nathaniel Hawthrone is a descendant of Puritan born in Massachusetts. One of his relatives was a judge known for persecuting Christian sects founded by George known as Quakers. Hawthorne attitude was shaped by the guilt he felt owing to his ancestor actions (Thomas 201).This drove  him to publish his first short stories tales of Twice Told. His work expressed the sad look of life in his view according to the puritan lifestyle, which was dictated by religion.

Hawthorne wrote during the period between the mid 19thcentury where most of the literatures were produced commonly referred to as the New England Renaissance in America. One of his books, the Scarlet letter, brought him to the limelight. His other books of the house of the seven gables portrayed two different angles of his ancestors. Nathaniel Hawthrone was one of the greatest short story writers and an author. His short stories and books attract many as he portrays the puritan life to his readers using irony, tales of widespread witchcraft guilt, and hypocrisy: describing the puritanical society with mixed feelings (Wright 54).

His books are considered outstanding literature of the 19th century because he used key characters in portraying the way the puritan treated people. In his writings of the scarlet and the house of the seven gables, he stated issues on how society was judgmental as they look down upon people yet they were not pure as they claimed. Having inner secrets was a norm for fear of the consequences resulting in guilt as in the case of the scarlet letter (Clarence 11).

Focus was more for the puritan life because of reactions to their beliefs, which were widely spread among the first people who ever settled in America. The puritans migrated to America to find religious freedom, which was restricted in Europe. The puritan were very strict in their religious doctrines .They became influential in America as their beliefs were passed from generation to generation. Hawthorne who during his time felt he needed to bring these issues to light and communicate his opinion through writing, was an author who constantly criticized their actions. Society region is associated with a supernatural being therefore labeling is a common phenomenon towards non-believers. This is because it is believed that a believer should have total trust on the supernatural being but not all religion subscribes to this view. Some hold beliefs of performing ritual, commitments to upholding good moral and belief of what is known. The hypocritical life of the puritan religion comes from the strictness viewed in religious practices (Nathaniel 38).

   With his strong relation for his pedigree, Hawthrone wrote the book the scarlet letter to highlight the strict beliefs of the puritan and the hesters sin. This created both the strengths and weakness of the puritan, which Hawthrone reiterated from time to time in his book at the same time expressing his deep concern for strict degrading rules. Search for religious freedom was majorly the reason why the puritan migration changed history. The first Puritans migrated from Europe to America settled in Massachusetts with most of them dying and other being saved by the Indians in the first year. Other followed later and thereafter they continued migrating until 1630 as they settled in Boston (Nathaniel 38). Feeling the need to cleanse the Church of England was their vision as they envisaged a church that encouraged a relationship that brings one closer to God. This was not the case in England. The view was that the role of the clergy and government was to intercede between ones relationship with God. Anyone who did not agree to it was persecuted .The led to many puritan fleeing to other parts of the world in hope to build an environment where  people believed that God would be happy not people. This was a view, which was not tolerated by the puritans, they were quick to conclude and punish without any consideration apart from their religious beliefs (Thomas 76).

This would make one wonder what is religion. Wright (32) explains that religion is not a fact to be explained, it is just by faith, which is significant and is instilled out of fear for the unknown. Religion is about God and his wonderful creation. Since there is no substantiality, people tend to interpret religion differently. However, religions that are organized are guided by doctrines and reference from either the bible or books that are accepted to have been used by their ancestors. Many people take advantage of religious writings. Even if it is a requirement to always seek for Gods’ guidance not everyone does so .People turn to God when in need and when they fear bad happenings (Clarence 47).

The puritan religious practices cannot be compared to what is known to be religion as presented by Hawthrone in the in the scarlet letter. The scarlet is a sad story of a woman caught up in love betrayal in the context of that period, the 17th century. The puritan norms and values, and gender expectations were different as compared to Hawthrone look of the 19th century, which was sensible. (Nathaniel 62).In this case, when Hester Prynne violates her wedding vows by getting involved in a extra marital relationship with a Reverend, she is found guilty of adultery. After being jailed for 10 years, she is found with a scarlet letter attached to her so that everyone would know her sins. The relations between Hester and the two male: the husband Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth, Hawthrone portrays the secrets and the nature of their interaction (Nathaniel 62).

The scarlet letter‘s main character is Hester but her affair with Dimmesadale resulted in severe punishment because she married Chillingworth though she did not love him. In the chapters of the book Dimmesdale is similar to Hester because of their indentify, which is more of external situation than his inner life .Arthur Dimmeesdale was a reputable minister but committed adultery and could not confess his sins initially. Later when he finally confessed, people were in disbelief. He is a scholar who is not sympathetic to people but have an active conscious. His dilemma is not sure about his heart; as much as he is a minister meaning that he elected and knows he has sinned in his conscious. He knows that he is a hypocrite (Nathaniel 78). The vigil he keeps shows his continuous inward effort to determine his position in heaven. To worsen his dilemma, the puritans  beliefs  was that if one wanted to earn a place in heaven, God’s power is not important because God imparted souls in people and salvation was already   predestined by this action. Therefore, if chosen by God he should not have committed sin in the first place. His conscious always made him feel guilty, which he resorted to punishing himself leading to his decline in spiritual and physical state. However, the people’s view about him is witnessed after the sermon on the Election Day .When he died, he became a significant figure because people had mixed reactions. (Nathaniel 78).

Others believed that God judged Dimmesdale’s fate while others thought that his confession was a noble act. Dimmesdale had strengths and weaknesses. Eventually, he is consumed by his guilt because of his weakness. He could not accept his punishment as he is eaten up by his hypocrisy. As he realizes that death is inevitable, he decides to cleanse his soul by confessing in public. His strength is seen at the end when he becomes grateful to God (Nathaniel 69).

When it comes to Dimmesdale, the society seems to be in denial, as they cannot accept that a Reverend could commit sins compared to when they readily accept that Hester sinned. According to the society Dimmesdale confession was just a way he wanted to be sympathetic not that he had sinned .people still referred to Dimmesdale as a martyr (Nathaniel 69).

This was the opposite with Roger Chillington who lacked love and was not kind. He was not a good husband to Hester because he did not love Hester .He did not treat his wife well and expected to receive affection from Hester. He is referred to a parasite who could not engage with other around him because he relies on others strength to refresh his ways. This is a character displayed when Chllington talked to the captain of the ship to include him in the voyage because he had known that Hester and Dimmsedale were planning to escape. His character can be described in two ways first as a devilish act then as a right move to prevent Dimmesdale from escaping without being condemned as required. If Dimmesdale run away, he probably would have not dealt with his sins.

Chiilingtons’ death is related to his character because after Dimmesdale death he had no victim to blame. This was because with Dimmesdale had revealed that he is the father of pearl made. This made him loose his purpose for revenge. He represents evil because of his obsession with revenge but not justice .His ways of wanting to harm others is a greater sin compared to Hester and Dimmesdale illicit affair, which was also considered sinful. While Hester sin was unexpected, chillingworth was on purpose (Nathaniel 69).

In the book peal is a reminder of her mothers’ sin because she was a child born out of wedlock, pearl is what made it be known about Hester and Dimmesdale affair. Her role is important in because she become the reason for Hester to be free at the same time encouraging Dimmesdale to publicly confess his sins. His moral character is strongly seen in the story than human part. This story tracks Dimmesdale transformation, which is closely associated with Pearl .as, her role of being a powerful guide to the minister   route to confession. During his last sermon, he called Pearl and Hester to saw Dimmesdale actions surprised many, when he when he held peals hands tightly. At his deathbed, Dimmesadale requested for a kiss from her to show that he had reconciled with his daughter. Pearl offers opportunity for the reader to see how Hester’s’ salvation depended on how she brought up her daughter. This was shared idea by Dimmesdale when he defended Hester having the right to have the child. This meant that pearl was God’s intentions to bond her two parents eternally (Nathaniel 71).

Although Chillingworth knows little of Hester marriage, before she had a vigorous character as her upbringing was well guided by her parents. Her passionate nature is associated with had an affair. She became more reflective after being punished for her sins as she constantly contemplate   on issues surrounding the organization of society and human nature .What Hester experienced made her to become a person considered to be compassionate (Wright 53). Hester in the scarlet letter is referred to as an intelligent and strong willed woman unexpected circumstances makes  her to be an important figure as she was shaped by these events. This is seen at the end of the books when went back wearing the scarlet letter as a sign of insight wisdom. As he criticizes the story he states that among the puritans even the one considered holy as the case of ministers were the worst sinners. This is evident   because the scarlet letter becomes a sign of society’s viewpoint as the readers follow how puritans have closed minds and within their religious beliefs being corrupt. He emphasizes that the problem was the puritan views not Hester actions. The book is portrays the extent of true human nature and society and how not everything can ever be perfect. The book also brings out the fact that people do make mistakes but the past mistakes should not bring one down and should not be a determinant factor to judge the goodness or the badness of someone.

In this story, Hawthrone is not just illustrating a story but he brings out the hypocrisy surrounding the puritans with many evidences in the story .the book is made to highlight changes, which were historical as the puritans migrated from Europe to America. This was a great liberating for them as compared to Europe in America they had soft social ways of life. This is divided into how gender was transformed from a more convention masculine attributes which was dominant has since be replaced by feminism characters. It shows that the qualities of sensitivity and compassion were considered much softer than the previous masculine qualities. According to Hawthrone, women can also be considered to have authority as compared to what the puritans had in mind. With all the ridicule and put down Hester experienced, she did not fall apart but instead she kept on being strong .This is what made her to be a heroine as viewed by many readers.

In conclusion, the puritan lifestyle has generated both good and bad situations. These rigid cultures were passed from generation to generation, and that is how they survived. Many people believed that faith was important.

Works Cited

Clarence Strowbridge C: Classic American Short Stories: 17 Stories from Hawthorne to     Hemingway. 2002. Dover publications.USA.

 This is a new compilation of seventeen stories, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s  “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” Herman  Melville’s “Bartleby,” “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte, as well as works by  O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson.

Thomas K. Parkes. The American Short Story: A Collection of the Best Known and Most Memorable Short Stories by the Great American. BBS Publishing Corporation   1999.

This is a collection of American Literature .it represents American short stories dating back to hundred years ago. It comprises of stories from four great American writers of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edagar Allan Poe, Washington Irving and Herman Melville. These are the greatest stories that flourished I the twentieth century bringing about work of religion and realism.

Wright, Sarah B .Critical Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Literary Reference to His Life. InfoBase publishing, 2007.

This book offers reflection of vivid New England life. This book is a guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne like .work with attention being on the tales. It contains synopsis of his work, analysis and how scholars view his work.

Nathaniel, Hawthorne . Selected Letters of Nathaniel Hawthorne . Ohio State University. 2002 This book is the first-ever selected edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s letters

 personal letters and eight letters written while Nathaniel Hawthorne was an  American consul. Myerson carefully selected letters focusing on Hawthorne’s  Relationship with famous people of the day: letters written to his wife, Sophia;  letters describing everyday life in Salem.