Hawthorne starts this novel with an essay entitled “Custom House”. It provides a proper narrative framework to the novel and it also reflects the political and social history of America. In 1850 Hawthorne had given to his publisher the manuscript of The Scarlet Letter. The editor suggested him to eliminate the content of ‘The Custom House’ as it was full of the puritanical criticism of America. However, in the preface of the second edition Hawthorne remarks that:-
“The sketch might, perhaps, have been wholly omitted, without loss to the public, or detriment to the book….”1
In the preface to the second edition “The Custom House” has been referred as “an introductory sketch”. In this section the source of the novel has also been talked about. The Scarlet Letter was written between 1849 and 1850. Hawthorne was always haunted by his association with the puritanical aneestral antiquity regarding the folklore and witchcraft in New England. His reading of literary books like History of Massachusetts by Anne Hutchinson and History of Boston by Dr. Caleb H, influenced him to discover the dark truths of humanity present within his inner consciousness of mind. Hawthorne was a great writer of American literature, which was still evolving. He has visualised the ‘New Eve’ of American literature in short story “Endicott and the Red cross” in 1837 :
“There was likewise a young woman, with no mean share of beauty, whose doom it was to wear the letter A on the breast of her gown, in the eyes of all the world and her own children. And even her own children knew what that initial signified. Sporting with her infamy, the lost and desperate creature had embroidered the fatal token in Scarlet cloth, with golden threat and the nicest art of needlework; so that the capital A might have been thought to mean Admirable, or anything rather than Adulteress”.2
There is a deep historical background present in The Scarlet Letter. It refers to various incidents like the Election Day or the death of Governor Winthrop.. A sense of hysteria was created among the people by ‘The Salem witch trial’. Hawthorne feels scared as the spirit of persecution has been inherited by his forefathers who have taken an initiation in Salem witch trials. The guilt associated with this can be felt in the essay “The Salem world of Nathaniel Hawthorne” written by Margaret B. Moore. She writes that the guilt is :-
“So deep a stain, indeed, that his old dry bones, in the charter street burial ground must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust”.3
William Hathorne the ancestor of Hawthorne was famous in American history for driving away the Quakers by the use of violence. The Quakers used to oppose the salaried ministry as well as the puritanical preaching.
On seeing this approach of Quakers Hawthorne’s ancestors confiscated their properties and killed them. Even the women were not spared. One such Quaker victim was Ann Coelman. He was killed brutally. This hysteria of Salem witchcraft is repository of the author’s discourse of gloominess, crime and evil. It always haunted him and therefore most of the time he writes about betrayal, guilt, necrophobia and shame. The characters portrayed by Hawthorne also have historical backgrounds. In American Notebooks he talks about the characterization of Dimmesdale. He says :-
“To Symbolize moral or spiritual disease by disease of the body-this, when a person committed any sin, it might cause a sore to appear on the body – this to be wrought out”.4
Roger Prynne who turned to Roger Chillingworth has been taken from a real life character William Prynne. He was an anti-catholic protestant who criticized king Charles I. Hawthorne mentions in one of his journal that-
“The life of a woman, who, by old colony laws, was condemned always to wear the letter A, sewed on her garment, in token of her having committed adultery”.5
In History of New England John Winthrop has narrated the story of James Britton and Mary Latham of Plymouth colony. They were charged for adultery, condemned and hanged in 1644. The imagination of the character of Hester Prynne has been no doubt sketched on Anne Hutchinson as she has been charged for immoral and unlawful preachings against the religious words of John Winthrop, the Governor. She was banished from Massachusetts. The Scarlet Letter is often known as a historical romance. This genre has been the most fashionable genre in American literature as it was the demand of the time. This novel also put some light on the puritanical society. A society is reformed through religion and this is the base concept of a puritanical society. The religious doctrines of a puritanical society emphasized that there are two parts of a soul, the mortal and the immortal. The former is feminine where as the latter is masculine in nature. There is a compulsion to attend the church and it was considered that men and women who deviated from such rules were sinners. Thus they were often punished in front of the society. It was very similar to the doctrines of Protestantism where a church is the chief governing body and the laws were based on the holy Bible. As it was believed that God was the creator of the universe so the Puritans always focussed on the religious supremacy. Hawthorne’s writing about the puritanical history connects the consciousness of the readers to the idea of citizenship in New England. It seems that the author is pondering on the puritanical development as well as their settlement and the citizenship of the United States. It starts with a fresh environment and in the novel it has been reflected that these settlements were fresh and new :
“the founders of a new colony, whatever utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison”.6
However it is a puritanical view of the new settlement. Hawthorne mocks such attempt in “Another view of Hester” a very interesting chapter of the novel that when Hester locates the reforms of the radical society she imagines that there was a need for the recreation of the society. She imagines that “the whole system of society to be torn down, and built up anew”. In the forest scene of the novel Dimmesdale and Hester decide to elope and they realizes the truth in the heightened moment of excitement. In this passionate moment they speak the truth:
“leave this wreck and ruin here where it hath happened ! Meddle no more with it ! Begin all a new!”7.
It is very interesting to note that John Winthrop a very famous Puritan leader of New England has compared the wedding between man and woman to the relationship between the holy institution like church and the community. To him the wedlock between the husband and the wife seems like a single corporate body. In this kind of relationship the husband leads his wife and the wife has a passive role to play here. It becomes clearer through these lines mentioned below:
“The Woman’s own choice makes such a man her husband; yet being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honour and her freedom…. Even so brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates”8.
Winthrop has compared the willing subjection of a woman in her marriage to the willing subjection of an individual to the magistrates or the governing authority. Winthrop further correlates this to religion and proclaims that liberty can only be achieved by a true Christian if he submits himself to Christ. The Puritans also believed that the society should surrender to the church like a woman who surrenders herself to her man. Hawthorne has never supported such kind of arguments. He has always stressed that forceful submission can never lead to peace and harmony. There should be freedom of expression, imagination, love and sympathy. The intentions of Chillingworth can never be supported. He wants to take revenge which is a threat to humanity. On the other hand Hester dreams for a better future. Her dream is like a utopia which is always unrealistic on the real land.
Her dream of a better future is very impulsive. During that period of time women were not allowed to see the dream of freedom. Their identity was like an object of possession. In the very first line of “The Custom House”, Hawthorne mentions about the complicated issues of possession.
He writes –
“that though disinclined to talk over much of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends – an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public”.9
This kind of possession is different from the possession mentioned above but it is very interesting to note that both the possession hints about the question of identity crisis of an individual. One suffers from the problem of gender where as the other suffers from the problem of heredity and environment. Both the problems lead to identity crisis. The line mentioned above suggests about the discomfort of Hawthorne with the autobiographical mode of writing. In writing the line about the life which has “taken possession of me”, Hawthorne projects at himself as the victim of witchcraft. These discussed arguments do not end here and it hints about the presence of gothic elements in the novel. This again hints about the ill effects of admitted and concealed sin, or the notions of perforated community and isolation. The very title of the novel The Scarlet Letter is a symbol and sign. The first alphabet that is to say the letter ‘A’ has been recognized by the character Pearl as a figure coming out of her horn book. It marks the beginning. One of the prominent themes of the novel is the indeterminacy of symbols and signs. Readers are frequently asked to decipher things as objects, events, persons and symbols. Hawthorne has successfully placed those objects, events, persons as well as the symbols in a perfect order. He acts like a perfect rhetorician who has branded his subjects with ornaments like figures of speech. These ornaments maintain the sequence of plot of the novel and we will also find that there is a perfect blend of characters and the story.
Coming back to the art of symbolism we will find that in literature it is the psychological idealism. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who is a German poet remarks about symbolism that the art of symbolism-
“transforms the experience into an idea and an idea into an image, so that the idea expressed through the image remains always active and unattainable and, even though expressed in all languages, remains inexpressible”.10
The concept of symbolism as expressed by Goethe focuses on the possibilities of numerous implications of the deciphered image. These implications are like a lost identity for Sigmund Freud. He correlates this lost identity with symbolism as something ‘underneath the sea of life in which we live enisled’ reflecting our ‘oceanic consciousneos.’11 According to Freud symbolism is a physical entity which is further divided into abstract concepts. These concepts are deciphered and understood differently by different people. It also depends on the circumstances, place, surrounding and atmosphere and that is the reason that a single image can have numerous meaning. In the puritanical society of America the concept of symbolism was in vogue simply because the numerous meanings of a single image is based on the interpretations of theology. Hawthorne’s concept of symbolism comes out of this puritanical world. In one of the introductory essays Sacvan Bercovitch has tried to explain the basic structure of symbolism in the puritanical society:-
“American puritan literature offers itself as a laboratory for still another, related area of study: the transition from medieval and renaissance allegory to modern symbolism…. Allegory originates, as a rule, in an orthodox, absolute design, and proceeds from the abstract to the particular. Symbolism starts in subjective interpretation, and leads from the discrete to the universal”.12
We can understand that the concept of symbolism is deep rooted in the mind of Hawthorne and his art of writing reflects the notions of Puritanism. His dealing of symbolism is very wide and he writes about social, political and religious connotations. These symbolisms are not only the device of an artist but they are further corelated to socio-political history, culture, nationality, American myths and tradition. Hawthorne admires strongly the associative power of art and symbols used in it. He successfully uses his symbols in his romance and it suggests a kind of creative and fertile setting of the plot structure in almost all of his works. The Scarlet Letter has been narrated beautifully with an extra attention on the symbolic epistemology. Hawthorne acclaims that reality is found only in interiors not on the surface. Symbolism and American Literature is a very famous book written by Charles Feidelson. Here Feidelson has stressed on the realistic world of Hawthorne. He has discussed here that Hawthorne has tried to swing between the mysterious world of politics and the concrete world of materialism. This cannot be seen through the naked eyes but it is a subject of perception. It can only be perceived through vision and senses. It can also be said that Hawthorne oscillates between the world of symbols and the world of allegory and finally he takes the decision by –
“Debilitating conflict between the symbolist and the allegorist”.13
In the novel The Scarlet Letter readers can witness the beautiful art of symbolism ranging from social to natural. These symbols open like wings of imagination in the novel and readers are amused in finding the meaning associated with this kind of art. “The Custom House” is the introductory chapter of the novel and it is a symbolic representation of solitude and human sin, and the entire novel has been laid on this foundation. The detailed analysis of the chapter unfolds the reality of abandoned ruin and the hidden story which the society is not aware of. The representation of the private and the public identity of the narrator are symbolical and it is reflected in the very introductory chapter.
The private place is the secluded ruined section where the self becomes unconscious. It also unfolds the reality that the only surviving object which is concrete is the Custom House of Salem where the author finds a safe gateway to cure the past. The scattered objects, half-erected buildings and the rotten wharfs they all symbolically represent and denote desolation, seclusion and sterility. The American eagle which is wide spread at the gate of the Custom House represents the government of America and it was dangerous to get security and shelter under its wings. The monotonous Custom House resembles the Wearisome old souls as it seems that they stand for negativity. In the moral strength and compassion of the old General some heroic qualities are displayed. With the eagle’s “a bunch of intermingled thunderbolts and barbed arrows in each claw”14 and “shield before her breast”15, the bird looks militant and oppressive. The author here suggests that tranquility and peace are very far and they indicates the imperialistic tendency of America. One of the most prominent symbolical element in the novel is the scaffold and the social, religious and political importance of it in the colony of Massachusetts. It reflects the whole gamut of punishment and human civilisation. The scaffold stands for the public display of banishment and punishment and thus it can be called as a whipping post to punish the persecutor. For the author it is an alternative for penal machine but in the religious world of Puritanism and the Puritanical society it stands for a profane space where the sinners and the sins of the society are destroyed. It stands for the enforcement of the sermon and thus it is like a holy place for purgation. It is made of iron and wood and is raised at a higher altitude from the ground for the gaze of the public. There are three scaffold scenes which the author has depicted. The first is the appearance of Hester Prynne with the illegitimate child. In this scene she is subjected to shame and indignation. In the second scaffold scene readers find the attempted confession and hallucination of Dimmesdale in the dark night and in the third scene Dimmesdale again confesses. It is very interesting to note that this confession comes out on the Election Day Sermon. It is followed by the union of Dimmesdale, Hester and the child Pearl. The scaffold denotes backbone, foundation and stability of the society and this is the turning point of transition which comes in the lives of all the major characters like Dimmesdale, Hester, Pearl and Chillingworth. The presence of Hester on the scaffold is related with sin, immorality and shame. Pearl the little child is looked symbolically as the child of evilness and sin. On the parallel to this scaffold there is the prison house which the author has talked about in the very opening chapter:
“…. it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison-house somewhere in the vicinity of Cornhill, almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial ground, on Issac Johnson’s lot, and round about his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchers in the old churchyard of king’s chapel”16.
The graveyard, the prison and the scaffold are connected to the cycle of punishment, suffering, trauma and death. At the very beginning the existence of prison marks a society where punishment and crime exist. It indicates about the rigidity of the society. Graveyard and prison both are symbolically associated with the loose state of the society and fallen caricature of the humanity. It is described that the prison was cold and dark with an iron clamped hard oaken door. The coldness and the darkness of the prison hint about the stillness in the life of the prisoners. Thus it is the symbol of suffering and death. Solace of the ruined spirit can only be found in the graveyard. It marks the loss of being human. So if the prison denotes the evilness of the human being or the loss of morality then the graveyard stands for the final destination of life. It symbolizes death and the coldness as well as the darkness of the grave yard parallels the coldness and the darkness of the prison. Here Hawthorne views life symbolically and morally and his writings acclaim that the reinforcement of life is explored in the outer and the natural world. Through his writings Hawthorne has tried to establish a relationship between man and nature. In this novel The Scarlet Letter he reflects a kind of psychic relationship between man and nature. In the midnight vigil of the character Dimmesdale we can notice that the whole night is filled with political, social, psychological, bodily, celestial and supernatural signs which are pregnant with full of ideas and meanings. In his hallucination Dimmesdale perceives the celestial meteor as a big and giant letter A. For the puritans it is the symbolic acceptance of the almighty to look Winthrop the Governor as an angel. The divine light of the celestial meteor is like an illumination in the black and dark world of human affairs. In the very first chapter the reference of the wild rose suggests the blooming love and passion of Hester for Dimmesdale. The rose blossoming beside the gate of the prison stands antithetically to the blossoming passion of Hester. Her passion is corrupt and damnable. The beauty of the wild rose cannot be categorized as moral or immoral. It stands as a symbol of Hawthorne’s own fascination. In chapter seven of the novel we can notice the fascination of the little child for the flower in the mansion of the Governor. It indicates and symbolise the purity of the child. Her pure nature matches with the purity of the external nature. The author has described her as that little creature, whose innocence and life had come out of a spring fountain. In the ancient literature of Greek we will find there are numerous references where goddess Aphrodite has been compared to a rose. Venus or Aphrodite is the goddess of sexuality and love. Thus here Hawthorne has tried to show us indirectly that how Hester and her daughter Pearl are looked in the puritanical society only because of their passion and beauty. Hawthorne has also given other symbolical references apart from rose. Pearl’s moving in the forest and imitating the scarlet letter on her bosom like her mother with flowers and leaves attributes the view of the society towards the mother and the daughter. Sunshine is another symbol which Hawthorne has used beautifully. It seems that the sunlight is the message of delight and happiness which comes directly from the heaven. The author has tried to portray Hester always away from the sunshine. It seems that the sun has refused to shine over her head and thus her life is full of darkness. When she goes to Governor Bellingham’s mansion her daughter Pearl wants her mother to catch the sunlight but the mother replies that-
“thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee.!17.
In one of the another scene in the forest we will see that the sunlight starts disappearing when Hester approaches towards it. Wherever she goes there is black environment as if she cannot come out from the soil of darkness. It is very strange to notice that the sunlight casts a glittering glow on her hair in the opening scene. It again symbolises the uncontrolled passion and the glittering emotion of Hester for her lover Dimmesdale. The light of the sun also stands for the light and truth in the world and readers are reminded of the clandestine rendezvous of Hester and Dimmesdale in the novel. During this incident sunlight never comes and shines on the dark spot of their meeting. Both of them take bath in the emotions of each other. On the opposite we can notice the little child Pearl who shines and plays in the sunlight. It seems that she is the child of the nature. It also shows the innocent nature of the childhood. Trees, birds, grasshoppers and colourful butterflies are the companions of the little girl Pearl. It shows the wildness of her own nature and symbolises that nature has gladly accepted her. For the world she was the child of sin and evil but her vitality is as wild and pure as nature. Like her companions birds, butterflies, grasshoppers Pearl is untamed and unbounded. This intimacy is unforgettable as the readers can notice that her shadow is casted in the river. This is not merely her shadow but it is the image of the wildness and purity of the nature of the child. The image of the little girl Pearl in the river also reflects the love affair and the heightened passion of Dimmesdale and Hester. The stream of the river has different meaning for different characters. For the little girl the stream of the river is like the rhythm of the life whereas for the couple it acts like boundary. This division is the division between the civilized society and the uncivilized and uncultured immorality of the sinners. This division keeps the lover and the beloved out of the society. The mirror image of Pearl on the surface of water is further subjectified by the author as the imagination of a romantic writer and Pearl successfully creates her own story. The forest has been termed as complex, fascinating but mysterious. The mysterious nature of the forest shows the mysterious decision taken by the lover and the beloved to search a life out of the cultured society. It seems that the conscious state of mind is following the shadow which is abstract and unconscious. The forest is not Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden mentioned in one of his most famous comedy As you like it. Here the forest does not act like a place for salvation. The forest is dark and complex like the forest of Arden but its stillness is haunting the characters and the characters are running towards their tragedy. The forest here reflects the duality of mind. It is virile and pure, peaceful but yet violent. It is a place of erotic exposure, enchantment, epiphanies and corruption. It is pure but corrupt as it seems that the so called sinners have corrupted the environment of the forest. This is the reason that humanity is forbidden to enter in such a haunted place. It is almost untouched by the regulations and pretension of the human society. It is the symbol of the art of nature as well as the secret of the human kind. It is situated in the outskirt of the society and is considered as a forbidden place for the human kind. It is often seen as an space open for retribution, guilt and repentance. In his Notebook Hawthorne has written about this kind of wilderness. In the following mentioned line from his Notebook we can understand his emotions associated with it-
“How very desolating looks the forest, when seen this way, – as if, should you venture one step within its wild, tangled, many stamped, and dark, shadowed verge, you would inevitably be lost forever”18.
Thus, the human mind is searching some peaceful experience in the Outskirt of the society. The common beliefs of the puritans were that the forest was the best dwelling place for the Satan. Here in the outskirt the Satan attracts the evil spirits present in the human society. It is a landscape of the black magic and the uncontrolled human passions. In the opposite of these thoughts the transcendentalists view this outskirt area of the forest as the best place to express freedom of the human kind. Thus the freedom of the transcendentalists seems to be satanic for the puritans. For Hester Prynne, this outskirt area of the forest seems to be an outlet for her freedom. It seems that this forest symbolically stands for her as a sacred place where no one can penetrate her happiness and silence. For her daughter Pearl also it is a best place to play. In the forest Hester Prynne finds her solace and her lustrous black hair, fascinating charm and burning passion is revitalized. This becomes clear from the following lines of the novel-
“The stigma gone, Hester heaved a long, deep sigh, in which the burden of Shame and anguish departed from her spirit. O exquisite relief ! …. By another impulse, she took off her formal cap that confined her hair; and down it fell upon her shoulders, dark and rich, with at once a shadow and a light in its abundance, and imparting the charm of softness to her features. There played around her mouth, and beamed out of her eyes, a radiant tender smile, that seemed gushing from the very heart of Womanhood. A crimson Flush was glowing on her cheek, that had been long so pale. Her sex, her youth, and the whole richness of her beauty, come back from what men call the irrevocable past, and clustered themselves, with her maiden hope, and a happiness unknown, within the magic circle of this hour….”19.
The fascination of the author with the forest is associated with biblical doctrine, historical reality and classical mythology. Beside this outskirt area of the forest Hawthorne has also emphasised upon the darkness of the history. This novel The Scarlet Letter is enriched with various symbols and colours. The author’s references to shadows, sunshine, cosmic rays, midnight, noon, play of darkness and light all represents the weaving of the plot with different themes. Various colours like gray, black and red all are symbolic in nature. It denotes sin, Jealousy and passion of the different characters. We can notice it in chapter sixteen of the novel where Dimmesdale and Hester meet in the outskirt area of the forest with a “gray expanse of cloud”. The cloud is the symbol of the freedom which the lover and the beloved is enjoying. The sun symbolically stands for happiness of the couple. The forest is dense and black and the path covered by it is narrow. This narrowness of the path shows the narrowness of the durability of the love affair. Darkness and unhappiness is associated with the characters like Chillingworth. It has also been discussed in chapter one through the description of the jail. We can say and several critics have also admitted this scene as the scene of punishment and sin. Puritans are wearing hats of grey colour in this scene. It is very interesting to see that the sunshine outside the jail has been contrasted with the atmosphere of darkness of the jail. We can also notice in the entire novel that red is the colour which has been referred numerous times as we can see it in the roses, clothing of the little child, colour of the letter, eyes of the characters like Chillingworth, the “scarlet woman” and the colour of the meteor. This clearly denotes fascination of Hawthorne from different colours. The colour red can be associated with different human traits like part of the human nature, lawlessness, evilness, love and passion. Hester’s cottage stands between the town and the forest. This cottage is lying in the outskirt area and it seems that the haunted cottage is like a deprived soul. It is surrounded by woods and wilderness. It is a symbol of barrenness. It seems that for Hester paradise of Eden has been lost and she is searching life in the place of the Satan. Her cottage was “built by an earlier settler, and abandoned, because the soil about it was too sterile for cultivation”20. Her own hyper sexuality has been cultivated by her lover and she has been gifted with a child. She is not sterile but there is a hope that she can remove the stillness and the barrenness of the forest. There is a hope against hope. For her it seems that the paradise has shifted itself and she is searching her happiness here. Several critics have pointed out that the land where Hester is trying to find out her lost life is like a lost Eden full of blighted memory, transgression and sin. In the whole novel the most important symbol is the scarlet letter ‘A’. It can have several meanings like America, Abel, Arthur or the most appealing and convicted adultery. It is interesting to note that the first man in this world was Adam. His name also starts with the first alphabet ‘A’. His name is also associated with the first sin of the human kind. To the readers it seems that the novel The Scarlet letter is full of symbols and allegories. The letter ‘A’ is very appealing and powerful as it stood for the secret sin which was hidden in the society itself. This letter becomes successful in reading people as texts. People can have perception about different people without actually knowing them. It is very strange to enter in the subjective world of any person without actually knowing that person. It is not only the public along with the leading characters of the novel who is trying to read Hester without actually knowing her, but Hester is also reading and Judging them. The desire of the little child Pearl for the letter ‘A’ is uncontrolled. It seems that the child is trying to give a new meaning to the letter. The symbols used by Hawthorne are successful in evoking untold history, subtle sensibilities, human complexity, psychological dilemma and autobiographical elements. His use of symbols and deep psychological analysis proves that he is undoubtedly one of the best writers not only in American literature but world literature. Coming to the themes like psychological essence present in the novel we will come to find that the psychological essence for Hawthorne is oriented from ideological, cultural and historical context of evolving America. This has been not recognized by early of his biographers because of his involvement in the advanced study of humanity. This becomes clearer by a comment of van Wych Brooks. He says that Hawthorne :-
“had lived too long in these border–regions, these polar solitudes where the spirit shive red, so that the substance of the world about him hung before his eyes like a thing of vapour”.21
Brooks has referred the illusionary human psyche as ‘border region’. Hawthorne has tried to show this ‘border region’ of human psyche in the repressed primitivism, neuroses, archaism and rampant human desire. He has clearly stated that human relationships depend on the power dynamics. The emotional turmoil is often unbounded like Nature. Here Hawthorne is mentioning about the different psychological states of the human mind. Its range is very wide and can be categorized into so many different forms like repression, ostracisation, masochism, sadism, defiance, rebellion and alienation. His writings offers an introspection into the subjective world of desire. The Scarlet letter is often considered as the best psychological romance. The characters like Hester Prynne presents an indomitable will of the mind. Her desire to protest, to fight, to deviate, to struggle unto the last and to live reflects the will power of a character and this will power evolves out from the conscious state of mind. It reflects the strong built personality of a character and it is psychological in nature. We cannot deny that this novel has a puritanical setting and in the religious world of puritans an extra care is given towards redemption, purgation, divinity and sin and Hawthorne is courageous enough to figure out the emotional crisis of the human kind and the dilemma of the human mind to chose between the correct and the incorrect, moral and the immoral. He successfully unfolds the various spheres of the human mind: hopes, beauty, purity, triumphs, sinful tendency, temptations, malignity, desperate struggles, depravations, desire for revenge, hysteria, self destructive tendencies neurosis and innocence. Several critics have called Hawthorne a pshycological dreamer surrounded by his own sense of mystery. He can be compared to Hester Prynne, the heroine of his novel. This comparision comes out from a common point that both of them are mystic psychological dreamers. His consciousness is marginalized through the painful act of his ancestors. This can be one of the most basic reason that he often writes about human follies and sin. The kind of psychological art which Hawthorne deals with often involves external manifestations, secret springs, metaphysical insight and play of words. In this novel The Scarlet letter different characters like Hester, Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl, Mistress Hibbins and others must be analysed in the cultural, political, social and religious context of the American society. Like the lenses of microscope and telescope Hawthorne has endeavoured to unfold the real face of the characters in front of the society. He has tried to confront the real Psychology of most of the personalities who are admired in the society. This attempt has been taken by him only to study the real motifs of the human kind. Here images play their own roles. In front of the society these admirable personalities are a symbol of respect. Hawthorne has tried to deconstruct the categorical understanding of humanity. It means that the author has tried to view the Psychology removed from the conscious constructions of the society. The elusive Psychology of the heroine of the novel Hester Prynne has been taken by most of the readers as a challange to understand because most of the time she is silent. She has been portrayed as a marginalized character who can live only in the outskirt area of the puritanical society. Her psychology is also marginalized and secluded and this is the reason that she is not easy to understand. She speeks less from her mouth but her body language appeals the most to the readers. In moment of crisis her utterance is more significant whereas most of the time she is buried in her own silence. On the other hand the characters like Arthur Dimmesdale becomes a forlorn character in front of the Salem crowd because he is suffering from guilt, mental agony and repressed desire. In Hester Prynne we can see the uniqueness present in an extra ordinary woman. It also signifies her mental agility which is rarely found in any society. These qualities are absent in almost all the masculine characters of the novel. Hawthorne can be treated as one of the most successful psychological novelist as he excels in portraying the sufferings, agony, alienation of his characters. The Psychology of Chillingworth to take revenge with a poised and calm nature seems very perturbing. He is a kind of character who supports utilitarianism. He attempts to view the world with this perspective of utilitarianism. His scholastic self has kept him away from mankind. He is a caricature of science and Hawthorne has projected him successfully as a scientist who lacks bioethics. If Arthur Dimmesdale stands and symbolises the nineteenth century movements like Transcendentalism, Romanticism and sentimentality then the characters like Chillingworth clearly symbolises the movement of materialism and utilitarianism. The penance of Arthur Dimmesdale has been represented through his attempts of self-destruction and decay. In comparision to these characters there is Hester who presents her resolute mind even in her silence. She has not been endowed with much words by the author. Her passionate blush and ‘haughty smile’ is sufficient enough to evaluate the psychological world of other characters. Here Hawthorne has tried to analyse both the cognitive self of Hester and the psychology of the society. The social psychology is related with empathy and fear. When Hester is brought in front of the public then the audience try to empathise with her. They are also scared that the evil spirit might fall on them if they are going to behave like the victim. Hawthorne has successfully applied here the attributional theory of psychology. It connects the events or happenings of the society to its origin. The women who are present in the crowd establishes a kind of mental relationship with the victim. They cannot reflects their Judgement easily because somewhere they understand that Hester has broken the false notions of the society. The notions of the society has been termed as false because era after era has withessed that a women has always been looked as an object to satisfy the hunger of the mankind. Hester has tried to break herself away from such kind of society but while doing so she has been termed as immoral and unfit for the society. The attributional theory of psychology works on this principle. The women present in the crowd understand that in order to gratify the society and the social rules they have paid no heed towards their personal requirements. Time and again they are subjected to suffer from agony of repression. Such prevalences like neurosis, hysteria and sexual perversion are often termed by the society as witchcraft presented through the characters like Hibbins. The elder women present in the crowd are fleet discontent among themselves. This clearly shows the stifled sexuality in their own lives. They pity the woman present on the scaffold as she has defeated them by breaking all the barriers of the society. They gladly accept this defeat by showing their sympathy for the lady present on the scaffold. To satisfy her personal desires Hester has sacrificed all of her moralities without any fear of punishment. She has given her consent for the individual desire and she hardly cares for the cultural progress. The happiness and blush on the face of Hester is the depiction of her inner self and the society has claimed this happiness as the nature of the immoral woman. The author has carefully chosen the expositions like ‘naughty smile’ only to unfold her psychological state of mind. She confronts the society only to defy the rules made by it. Her silence acts like a resistance for shame and humiliation. Her love for Dimmesdale is pure and it provides her the strength to cope with the gazing eyes of the society. Public scandals cannot taint her love. She hesitates to reveal the name of the father of her child publicly and thus it shows her care towards her lover. In comparison to Hester we find Dimmesdale an easily accessible character. He cannot escape his image of nobility. His bleeding and hallucination presents his psychological state of mind. He reaches almost on the edge of madness because he cannot confess his sin. He cannot see his social defamation. On contrary to this Hester acts like a romantic spirit who shows that an individual can have a right to make a choice in the society and the world. The death of Arthur Dimmesdale shows that after the confession of the truth he would not have been able to resist the side effects of love like his beloved Hester. This can be expressed by the following lines:
“The heart, making itself guilty of such secrets, must perforce hold them, until the day when all hidden things shall be revealed…. so, to their own unutterable torment, they go about among their fellow-creatures, looking pure as new-fallen snow; while their hearts are all speckled and spotted with iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves”.22
Hawthorne has tried to show that the words of Hester are more truthful in comparison to the deceptive and impressive words of her lover Dimmesdale. Her convincing argument to satisfy the questions of her daughter Pearl is also admirable. Through her love and affection she retains Pearl under a mild guardianship and her daughter Pearl feels more satisfied. It shows the mental power of Hester that she was more strong then Dimmesdale, the father of her little daughter. Sometime we can notice aggression of Hester and this spirit of aggression shows that she may reveal the identity of Dimmesdale, her lover but she never does so. It shows that even her aggression is under her control. She never allows her mind even in the unconscious state to reveal the identity of her child’s father. On contrary to this we can notice the diabolic shapes and hallucinations of Dimmesdale. It reflects the unconscious state of mind of the character Dimmesdale. The hidden and repressed emotions of Arthur Dimmesdale come out in the form of supernatural images of evil. It can be understood and explained through the lines of The Mysteries of Bedlam written by some anonymous author:
“Were the deep oceans dried, and all its secrets opened to one’s scrutiny, less varied, less monstrous would its discoveries probably be, than those which would be obtained from the unveiling of one distempered spirit”.23
Due to his psychic imbalance Dimmesdale has started passing sleepless nights. He has also started fasting nights after nights. He was living under fear that somebody might come and punish him. This punishment was lying deep under his thought and his body has started decaying. He has started even hurting himself until blood came out of his body. Hawthorne has successfully depicted the psychological state of a sick and cowardly individual. Dimmesdale was incapable to face the reality and this incapability was eating him. Hawthorne is investigating the sin and the psychic turmoil of the sinner. For the sinner there can be different notions of sin like weakness, repressive need or self deceit. It is applicable to the characters like Dimmesdale. His self deceit was leading him towards his own destruction. Hester is a co-partner of Dimmesdale. She is his beloved and equally guilty of the sin but she is mentally so strong that weakness, repressive need or the self deceit can do no harm to her. Hawthorne has given us the variety of characters who can teach us and enrich our understanding of human psychology and behavior. The fear of the guilt and shame saps the foundation of Dimmesdale’s identity. This provides him a sense of security crisis and thus he feels alienated from the society. He fails to escape from this fear of sin and shame. It seems that his sin and shame has colonized both his mind as well as his body. The author’s moonlight of romance is haunted by the untamed spirit of desire which the society and its regulations cannot control. Dimmesdale fails to resist the temptations of his beloved and thus he is driven by his glands of passion. His urge for the carnal satisfaction is so strong that he denies the proximity of Pearl because he fears from being identified. He meets Hester secretly in the forest only for the carnal pleasure. He cannot love her more than his ego. He meets her only to discharge and release his lustrous desire. Here Hawthorne is trying to penetrate the conscious and the unconscious mind of the characters like Dimmesdale. The self-love of Dimmesdale cannot give any space to his own daughter. It shows his intense care for his political economy and self-preservation.
The complex psychology of Chillingworth reveals his sexual jealoury. It is most intriguing as this psychology of jealousy is a matter of debate from the ancient time to the modern time. As for example we can find it in the politics of Satan to lure Eve and Adam, the Aristotelian theory of ‘Phthonos’24, The dark shakesperean tragedy of Othello, The Duke and the Last Duchess portrayed by Robert Browning or the unsatisfied monster of Mary Shelley. This sexual Jealousy is very fundamental in provoking the flow of uncontrolled emotions in the world of literature. Harold bloom has tried to suggest about this sexual Jealoury as it “is the most novelistic of circumstances, just as incest; according to Shelley, is the most poetic of circumstances”25. Thus we can say that the character Chillingworth symbolizes one of the most powerful passion of human being. This strong passion can be identified as Jealoury and envy. This is very strong in the case of Chillingworth as it is related with the insecurity of desire. This is also very interesting to notice that an individual is ashamed more to acknowledge this sexual insecurity consciously. It is not as blind as love but it is sharp and far sighted. Even a subtle observation can be noticed by a envious mind. The desire of Chillingworth to take revenge against the lover of her wife is a natural process. It evolves out from the feeling of self defeat and failure to possess his wife Hester. This instinct of Chillingworth can be noticed from the starting moment when he has seen his wife with a illegitimate child on the scaffold. The feeling of vengeance has started in his mind from that starting moment even before he identified the person behind this. This can be termed as an unconscious hostility of Chillingworth. He could have reacted easily with an outbrust of anger but he is a psychologist who understands that there are numerous ways to avenge and torture. Hawthorne has tried to show us the double personality of Chillingworth where his art of pretension and disguise surprises us that a man can carry and hide such a deep malice inside his heart and mind. When he goes to see Hester in the prison house he finds that there was a wide difference of age between Hester and himself. He also rationalizes the situation and keeps himself always elevated on the ground of his scholastic achievements. He finds by this over analysis that the physical beauty of Hester has faded and it shows his psychological state of mind. He cannot see her as merry and beautiful as it further ignites his passion to take revenge. He is determined, calm and emotionless and his desire to take revenge is expressed when Hester finds it in his eyes and mind. This can be expressed by the following lines of the novel:
“There came a glare of red light out of his eyes, as if his soul were on fire”.26
In the psychological world of Chillingworth revenge is like a game where Dimmesdale acts like a bait. Instead of punishing the culprit at once Chillingworth takes pleasure by delaying the punishment. He is a kind of person who always try to visualize the paramount of self importance. He is over burdened with his own image of a scholar. He cannot forgive anybody who is guilty in his visionary world. Hester has shattered this image of Chillingworth by refusing him to look as her husband. It is very difficult for a man to accept such defeat in life. It brings out a sense of insecurity in the life of Chillingworth and it further threatens him to find out the rival and the culprit. Hester Prynne has identified from the scaffold this psychosexual anxiety of Chillingworth. On the other hand Chillingworth knows that he is an unwanted outsider in the love affair of Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne. He attempts to make both the lover and the beloved understand the importance of his position in their immoral lives. Hester understands this very late that she has done a big mistake by hiding the identity of her husband. She must have disclosed the identity of the physician in front of Dimmesdale. Through the Jealous male voyeur of the physician Hawthorne has tried to show that how a male reflects the right of ownership over a female whom once he has possessed. He is so obsessed with taking revenge that everywhere he follows Hester and Dimmesdale. When Dimmesdale and Hester are standing with Pearl in the midst of the night on the scaffold Chillingworth, the physician comes there and watches them as a predator. When the lover and the beloved plan to escape from the town with the little girl then also Chillingworth follows them. This clearly reflects the sado-masochist purpose of the physician. Apart from these adult psychologies Hawthorne has successfully depicted the horizons of the child psychology through the behavior of the little child, Pearl. Her frequent changing of moods and fluctuation in the nature compels even her mother to question God about such behavior of her child. In the words of the narrator she is ‘an imp of evil’. She is not like the children of a puritanical society. Her screaming and frantic gestures shows her wild and uncontrolled emotions. Child rearing has always been an important part and aspect in the puritanical society of the New England. It was a subject of strong dictatorial methods to put the child under a preferable code of conduct. Hester has reared the little child with love, care and intellect like her beautiful needlework. She has always adorned her daughter and as a result the little child enjoyed every sort of pleasure which she could find in the nature. Her audacity to play with seaweeds and wild flowers is not unnatural. She has been brought up like this. She is the symbol of freedom which is uncontrolled and untamed.
The psychology of the little girl seems to be the extended psychology of her mother. We can also say that the childhood of Pearl shows Hester’s childhood. She has inherited the same passion and rebellious nature from her mother. She looks the world differently and unlike Hester she lacks the principle of being. The psychology of Pearl is the reflection of her own experiences of life which has taught her that the world was too hostile for her and apart from her mother and nature there was no one to love and care for her. The abuses of the society resulted in the neurological deviation which can be seen in the nature of the little girl Pearl. She is not like other babies of the puritanical society. When she was in her mother’s womb her unconscious mind has archived different irrational and abuses of the human kind instead of admirable gaze. We cannot deny the internal emotional turmoil from which Pearl was suffering, from the very beginning of her presence in her mother’s womb. The cause of her defiant spirit is both heredity and environment. Different psychologists have come to a point that the aggressive nature of a child is the outcome of their rejection or denial in the society. D.H.Lawrence has said about the unique psyche of Pearl. He explains that:
“We cannot help regarding the phenomenon of Pearl with wonder, and fear, and amazement, and respect…. Nowhere in literature is the spirit of much of modern childhood so profoundly, almost magically revealed….” and he also says “she has a sort of reckless gallantry, the pride of her own deadly being”.27
Lawrence further explains the pleasure and the danger associated with the characters like the little child Pearl in studies in classic American literature. Here he analyses the possibilities of different situations which can affect the behavior of the child. He says that:
“….Poor, brave, tormented little soul, always in a state of recoil, she” be a devil to men when she grows up. But the men deserve it…. Poor little phenomenon of a modern world, she grows up into the devil of a modern woman. The nemesis weak-kneed modern men”.28
Lawrence acclaims that the rebellious nature of Pearl is dangerous. It seems that his warning reflects an impulsive self, which is present in every child and when it is provoked by the environment it results into the unexpectional behaviour of a child. When a child accords and accepts easily the impulse of the surrounding, it has been referred by Lawrence as ‘sympathetic impulse’, and there is also an impulse which evolves out from the inner self of the child that is to say ‘voluntary impulse’ coordinates with violence it comes out in the surrounding environment. Hawthorne refers this violence as dangerous as it is tough to control such impulses in a child. When Pearl is speaking to the river her ‘sympathetic impulse’ is working properly but the shriek, obstinacy and the sadistic laughter of the child is the product of her ‘voluntary impulse’. It seems that she is laughing on the world which has betrayed her. The author has tried his best to categorise the spiritual and the diabolical aspect of the child psychology on the basis of his own experience of the childhood. He has tried to read the conscious and the unconscious stage of mind present in an individual. His characters present a fine example of his judgement of the human psychology. Hawthorne has not used the technique of ‘stream of conscious’ as used by different writers like James Joyce, May Sinclair, Virginia Woolf or Lawrence but he has successfully paved the way for the coming writers of American literature. The source of psychological elements of the novel The Scarlet Letter is Hawthorne’s own philosophy of life. Edward Percy Whipple has founded a new experience in the novel and that is the:
“movements of morbid hearts when stirred by strange experiences”29. The writings of Hawthorne reveal that a novelist is not only an artist but also a philosopher, a psychologist, a path-finder and many more. It can be best expressed by the following lines:-
“In the depths of every heart, there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones, or prisoners whom they hide”.30
Apart from the psychological elements there are few other interesting elements which are present in The Scarlet Letter. The Feminist approach of reading this novel brings out some interesting elements of the novel. Nathaniel Hawthorne has made an entry in his notebook on Saturday, 27 july 1844. He wrote about his most famous novel The Scarlet Letter :
“The life of a woman, who by old colony law was condemned always to wear the letter A, sewed on her garment, in token of her having committed adultery”.31
Sources such as Joseph Felt’s Annals of Salem and Caleb H.snow’s History of Boston were widely circulated as they reflected the most authentic picture of the seventeenth century America. Hawthorne has read extensively about the puritan New England of 1640’s from such sources. Governor John Winthrop’s Journal of 1644 reflects that there was an execution of Mary Latham in the Bay colony. She was also charged for adultery with young men. It was considered the destiny of the adulteress. The punishment of Hester Prynne endures the gaze of the common people of the town. However during that period sinners of adultery were whipped and deprived of their children if they had any. Hester is neither deprived of her child nor whipped. Felt’s Annals of salem shows that during the period of 1690’s ‘adultery was punishable by an hour on the gallows, forty stripes’ (xxvii). This was further followed by wearing of the capital ‘A’. Hawthorne has omitted this punishment of forty stripes from the novel. When we further read the novel we find that Dimmesdale and Chillingworth both of them find Hester accountable for their fall. Chillingworth blames her by saying- “Woman, Woman, thou art accountable for this”32. Dimmesdale also insists that she must thik for him as she was strong. Readers can argue that Hester is subjected to gender-determined punishment. Although characters like Dimmesdale and Chillingworth consider Hester responsible for their downfall but we should not forget that she is the most powerless lady and character in the puritanical society yet she is powerful enough to be responsible for the downfall of the men who came in her life. We should also not forget that she was Judged guilty and unfit for the puritanical society only by the male Judges. If female Judges were to Judge her deeds the story could have been different. It clearly shows that the female were considered merely as a puppet in the puritanical society. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth century America women were speechless and powerless like Hester who was buried ‘in her own silence’. It is not a wonder that the paradise described by Hawthorne is the paradise for all men. In this paradise women were not permitted. Hester take care of her little daughter Pearl and only this leads her to the salvation because by showing love and care to the child she shows that she was not like Anne Hutchinson. Hester accepts gladly the role of a woman as a mother. Hawthorne considers this as a very essential role which leads Hester towards her salvation. She has been saved from damnation by performing this role of a mother. One can argue that Dimmesdale is an active partner in the adultery then she hasbeen saved from damnation by becoming a good father? We have discussed earlier that Dimmesdale is a kind of person who is driven by his carnal passion and he hardly cares for Pearl. So his damnation is sure and nobody can save him. Here the arguments given by different critics shows that Pearl kisses Dimmesdale at the end of the novel :
“Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief, in which the wild infant bore a part, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her father’s cheek, they were the pledge that she would grow up amid human Joy and sorrow, nor for ever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it”33
It hints that Pearl has saved her father from damnation. It also obliterates the care of her mother towards her. It also saves Pearl from living the life of a evil in the puritanical New England. Thus Dimmesdale is also responsible for the salvation of Pearl. It seems that this novel is the story of a daughter and her mother with absence of a father. This is just the opposite of the world of male genealogy of Hawthorne. It seems that Hawthorne has given his own words to Hester and he stands for her. Hawthorne speaks in Hester’s voice as a revolutionary, as he is a man who cannot see injustice any more. Through the character of Hester Prynne Hawthorne has tried to show us the approach of the puritanical society of America towards women. Apart from this Hawthorne has also reflected through his novel the cultural construction of gender. Pearl’s abnormal nature evolves out from the act of her parents, so it has been asserted by the author that a sin is deep rooted in distortions of the construction of gender. In this novel we find Dimmesdale and Hester constructing a relationship like the bond between a manly woman and a womanly man. Hester acts like an active partner whereas Arthur Dimmesdale is never sure of his action. Thus he is a passive contributor and a dull partner of the relationship. They reciprocally provokes one another to get back their true gender identity. This esteem redeems the behaviour of the child.
The pursuit of Hester Prynne in feminine speculations is presented like an “exercise of thought” in different situations. When the readers quest for the intellectuality of characters we find that the character Hester Prynne leaves far away the woman’s persona of beauty and gives an impression of “marble coldness” in terms of feminism. Even at this point her charm has not been destroyed. When she meets with Arthur Dimmesdale in the forest she has been referred by the author :
“She who has once been woman, and ceared to be so,might at any moment become a woman, again, if there were only the magic touch to effect the transfiguration”34.
However, before that meeting Hester feels the ‘innate womanliness’ in her and also finds herself a victim of circumstances. The intellectual and masculine Hester looks like:
“There seemed to be no longer anything in Hester’s face for love to dwell upon; nothing in Hester’s form, though majestic and statue-like, that passion would ever dream of clasping in its embrace; nothing in Hester’s bosom, to make it ever again the pillow of Affection. Some attribute had departed from her, the permanence of which had been essential to keep her a woman”35.
inspite of this feeling of Hester we find that her beauty and charm is enough to ignite the passion of her lover Dimmesdale and when she meets him in the forest she also feels the womanly charm present inside her. She recovers her womanhood from the “magic touch” of Arthur Dimmesdale and in the consummate exercise of the feminine strength she makes Arthur a ‘man’. She sees him approaching in the forest with his “nerveless despondency” and his behaviour reveals that he has lost all of his masculine qualitites because of his resolute will of self-possession. He fears from being noticed by the public. It is very interesting to note the narrative technique used by Hawthorne. In this novel he presents his ideas through questioning on the federal theology, sanctity, authenticity, nationality and puritanical doctrines. He has used the genre of presenting history out of the traditional record. While doing so he adopts historical characters and incidents along with the local names to maintain the uniformity and interest of the readers in his plot. Hawthorne believes in the essay “Tradition and Individual Talent” written by T.S.Eliot. He realized that the distance of an artist from his art was very necessary as it improves the quality of the art. He also has the courage to talk on the controversial issues of the time. In the very first chapter, “The Custom House” he has reflected the satirical description of the inspector. In his words we can understand his aim of the satire :
“I used to watch and study this patriarchal personage with, I think, livelier curiosity than any other form of humanity there presented to my notice. He was, in truth, a rare phenomenon; so perfect, in one point of view; so shallow, so delusive, so impalpable such an absolute nonentity, in every other. My conclusion was that he had no soul, no heart, no mind; nothing, as I have already said, but instincts; and yet, withal, so cunningly had the few materials of his character been put together that there was no painful perception of deficiency, but on my part, an entire contentment with what I found in him”36.
This chapter has disturbed many critics and publishers as it has a personal intonation of Hawthorne. It is almost conversational in tone. It reflects the seed of oral tradition where readers are transformed into listeners and the narrative voice is transformed into a speaker. Through the voices of the community of Salem we are introduced to the beautiful chorus. It symbolically stands for collective audience. Hawthorne also talks about the presence of gothic elements in his novel. “The custom house” reflects some gothic ambience with ancient legacy which has “oyster-like tenacity”. The subjectified stories of the history like witch hanging ancestry, Quaker-whipping, the terror present inside the mind of the narrator, The hallucination of Dimmesdale, evil spirits, the imaginary super-natural creatures, groaning in midnight all hints about the presence of the gothic elements in The Scarlet Letter. Through these gothic elements Hawthorne projects successfully the evils of the society like abolition of Native Americans, Witchcraft, the struggle of civilization and wilderness, slavery and much more. With Jealousy, unfulfilled desire, retribution and guilt as a subject Hawthorne has tried to show us the ill effects and wicked portion of human instincts. The dark forest, the symbolical meteor and the characters like Mistress Hibbins are like the savage and the unconscious stage of humanity. The red burning eyes of the physician, Chillingworth seems very haunting to the readers. The character sketch of Mistress Hibbins shows the presence of gothic elements in the novel but it is very interesting to see that not her presence but her isolation and friendship with repression is fearful. This seclusion, repression are the real gothic elements which haunts the characters of the novel. In the dark and black forest American consciousness is haunted by such gothic elements. Thus the gothic elements present in The Scarlet Letter is invested to explore and discover the unconscious part of the human mind. To maximize the presence of the gothic ambience Hawthorne has used appropriate dialogues and symbols. Symbols like forest, meteor, river, sunlight, darkness, prison, scaffold all of them enhance the intense curiosity of gothic elements and all of them have different psychological meanings. One of the most important feature of Hawthorne’s narrative technique is the silence of the characters over different questions which has been raised in the novel. This silence is the ironical approach to resist those rhetorical questions. Readers have their own resolutions to seek the answers of those questions. When Hester and Dimmesdale plan to elope from New England, the little girl Pearl refuses to identify Hester without the scarlet letter reflects that such happy endings occur only in the world of imagination and, there is no much role for imagination in the real life and incidents. The narrative strategies of Hawthorne are unique as they raise contemporary issues like literary structures, ideologies and semiotics. This is the most stylistic feature of The Scarlet Letter as it maintains the interest of the readers. The language of Hawthorne becomes more poetic when the characters talk about their emotions of love and passion. These emotions are purified by the ‘midas touch’ of the writer. Thus we can say that through the novel The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne has poured out his genius and he inspires the forthcoming writers of America. His art of characterization and weaving of the plot is unique and that is why he is considered as one of the greatest author of the American literature. He was very far ahead of his time and readers are amused to read and work on his art.
1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet letter, Vol-I of The centenary Edition of the Worlds of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ed. William Charvat. Onio state Univ. press, 1962, P.1
2. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Selected Tales and sketches. Digireads. com Publishing, 2007. P.98.
3. Moore, Margaret B. The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne. U.S.A : university of Missouri press, 1998. PP. 37-38.
4. Ordinary Mysteries: The Common journal of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne. ed. Lawrence, Nicholas R & Werner, Marta L. American Philosophical Society: Philadelphia, 2005.P.5
5. Mitchell, R. Thomas. Hawthorne & Fuller Mystery. U.S.A.: Book Crafters, 1998.P.136
9. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet letter: A Romance (New York : Penguin Books, 1983),P. 7.
10. Eco, Umberto. The Limits of interpretation. Indian University press, 1994,P P.8.
11. Gougeon, Len. Emerson and Eros: The Making of a cultural Hero. Suny Press, 2007. P.116.
12. Bercovitch, Sacvan. American Puritan imagination: Essays in Revaluation. Cambridge University press, 1974, P.10.
13. Feidelson, Charles. Symbolism and American Literature. University of Chicago press, 1953, p.14.
16. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet letter and other writings: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. United States of America,2005. P. 36
19. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet letter and other writings: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. United States of America,2005. P. 130.
21 . Brooks, Van Wyck. The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865. New York : E.P.Dutton and company, 1936, P.234-25.
23. Anonymous. Mysteries of Bedlam or Annals of the Madhouse. London: T.B.Peterson, 1850, P.92.
24. Aristotelian The Art of Rhetoric has defined ‘Phthonos’ as an agony felt towards other’s Prosperity. It is an alternative term for envy
25. Bloom, Harold. Marcel Proust. Infobase Publishing, 2009, P.20.
27. Lawrence, D.H. Symbolic meaning. Viking Adult, 1964, P.137.
28. Lawrence, D.H. Studies in classical American literature. Uk: Cambridge University press, 1979, P.105.
30. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Haunted Mind” in Best known work of Nathaniel Hawthorne. U.S.A: kessinger publishing, 2003, p.423.
31. Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The American Notebooks, Norton Critical Edition P.215.