The Prophet of The Scarlett Letter


Biblical motifs often reoccur throughout timeless American Literature. The motif I have been assigned to is the prophet: a figure who foretells elements of the future, and is summarily rejected by society out of fear and naivety. This speaks very intimately to Hester’s journey in The Scarlett Letter. The story begins with a young woman scorned by her peers as an adulterer, when in reality, she had been moving on after her presumably dead husband had been captured by Indians. In the modern world, sexual freedom and personal decisions are rights that women are rightfully awarded. Back in 17th century New England, women are shamed into submission in a wholly altered culture, and aren’t allowed lovers on the side. Incidentally, Hester is a transcendentalist thinker stuck in the wrong period of time. She is the prophet of new coming judgments regarding marital relationships; so naturally, this Puritan society shuns her, sending her out to live with her daughter Pearl on her own. Similarly to the prophet motif, Hester also exists peacefully with nature, and can only act as her true self in the woods with her lover Dimmesdale. Overall, the Biblical allusion of the condemned prophet is very much alive in the basis of American literature.

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