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The “Scarlet” imprint in The Scarlet Letter

  ”Hongyu” touches on a fairly subtle subject, but from the way I’ve approached it, it doesn’t seem like I should be criticized in that regard.
  —Nathaniel Hawthorne
  
  This was Hawthorne’s position in a letter to publisher Fields after The Scarlet Letter was published. In this regard, Randall Stewart, an expert on Hawthorne research at Brown University in the United States, commented: “Indeed, he dealt with a subject involving infidelity in a chaste way. Although he lightly condemned the crimes of Hester and Arthur, But he never let them enjoy happiness.” It can be said that Hawthorne adopted an eclectic and reserved attitude in the way he handled the theme of “The Scarlet Letter”, which to a certain extent reflected his views on women. Hawthorne was once infatuated with the image of the protagonist in his writings, and held strong pity and sympathy for him; however, this is a work exploring the concept of original sin after all. It conforms to the “rational thinking” of that era, and inevitably makes the historical accumulation in his creative consciousness imprinted with a permanent “scarlet” brand in “The Scarlet Letter”.
  Since the rise of Western feminist theory, the domestic academic circles’ attention and interpretation of Hester Prynne, the heroine in The Scarlet Letter, has shown a tendency to be more extreme. Taking care from the perspective, the final positioning of Hester is-a strong feminist fighter with an independent consciousness under Puritanism, a great woman who resists unreasonable marriage, pursues free and pure love, and expects equal status between men and women, “Saints of Love”, etc.; or go to another extreme, thinking that Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” is a “deconstruction of the ideals of feminism in the nineteenth century”. The dominant patriarchal ideology, that is, the work promotes Hawthorne’s patriarchal consciousness, social consciousness and views on women. The author believes that these viewpoints are all subject to discussion, and we should draw a more pertinent conclusion by carefully reading the text, examining the writer’s era and the writer’s own creative motives.
  Nathaniel Hawthorne is a descendant of a prominent family of Puritan immigrants in New England. His first-generation ancestor, William Hassan, came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in British North America from England in 1630. of dignitaries, to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Major of the Salem Militia. Regarding this ancestor, Hawthorne described in the article “Customs” with extremely complex feelings: the image of our earliest ancestor was endowed with a dark and gloomy solemn character by the family tradition. I recall that this image appeared in my imagination as early as I was a child, and it still haunts me today, leading to a deep feeling for the past, but I do not think that this feeling is related to the present. What does it have to do with the town of Salem, and it seems to have a closer relationship with the Curse who lives here. The earliest ancestors looked serious, with large beards, large black cloaks, and pointed hats. He came here a long time ago. When he came, he took a Bible and a sharp sword, and strolled down the sparsely-traveled streets with a solemn posture. figure.
  Next, the author continued to say frankly: “However, let them look down on me as they wish! Anyway, some characteristics of family nature have been entangled with mine, and
  they are not separated from each other.” The great achievements and bad deeds of the Puritan ancestors deeply influenced Hawthorne’s life, and the imaginative Hawthorne inherited “some characteristics of nature” of his Puritan ancestors, and finally prompted him to integrate them into his own series of creations. He gave him “a deep feeling for the past”. “The Scarlet Letter” is a typical product of this kind of feeling. Hawthorne’s Puritan family background and Hawthorne’s contradictory and complex deep feelings for ancestors-the belief in Calvinism’s concept of “sin” makes the Puritanism concept of original sin. It has become a historical accumulation with deep meaning in Hawthorne’s creative consciousness; at the same time, the insight into the malpractice of Puritanism makes the work reflect a kind of exposure and attack on this kind of domination. However, what is more important is that the establishment of the concept of original sin determines the final tone and tragic ending of The Scarlet Letter, making the Boston society in the 17th century permeated with a gray, gloomy and melancholy atmosphere.
  However, Hawthorne, who had been devoted to the worship of Puritan ancestors since childhood, became a marginalized person in society because of the early death of his father. His father, Captain Nathaniel ‘Hassan, died in the Netherlands during a long voyage in 1808. Due to the powerless status of women in the society at that time (the deprivation of women’s right to inherit property), in order to survive, Hawthorne’s mother had to bring her three young sons back to her parents’ home. As a result, 4-year-old Hawthorne began to live under the fence. Although Mrs. Hassan’s mother’s family was a warm and hospitable family, and although her uncles and aunts loved Hawthorne so much that he spent a happy and happy childhood, Hawthorne, who has grown into an adult, gradually became more and more familiar with the world. Demonstrated sensitivity to the embarrassing situation his family finds in society. At 16, Hawthorne faced a tough decision about whether to continue his studies and which university to attend because he couldn’t imagine having to rely on Uncle Robert for another four years; he eventually forgoed expenses for financial reasons The high-ranking Harvard University chose Bowdoin College, mainly because Hawthorne was very sensitive to his status as dependent on others. The life from childhood to making a living independently had a great impact on Hawthorne’s life. The plight of himself and his mother, and his later contacts and contacts with many feminists, made him focus on women, women and men in his creations. In particular, he has a special intimacy with women on the edge of society, which strengthens his thinking on various issues of women’s powerless status. These reflections are concentrated in the heroine Hester together with the discussion of the original sin concept in “The Scarlet Letter”.
  In the summer of 1849, Hawthorne resigned from Customs. The pressure of political enemies, the difficulty of maintaining a family’s livelihood, and the death of his mother made Hawthorne almost exhausted. In a complicated emotional state, the strength of his wife gave him the strength to continue to create. Therefore, Hawthorne began to create “The Scarlet Letter”. And in “The Scarlet Letter”, the attachment, respect and praise to mother and wife are transformed into praise, pity and sympathy for Hester’s image. “The Scarlet Letter” was accidentally found by Hawthorne in a pile of discarded documents many years ago when he was serving in customs, although Hawthorne repeatedly stated: “I have always confined myself to the seven pages of material written by the old inspector”, ” What I strive to achieve is the authenticity of the outline of the story.” But at the beginning of the discovery of the “Scarlet Letter”, the original sin concept that had been in the author’s mind for a long time dominated and played a dominant role. Hawthorne analyzed it in “Customs”. His mood at the time:
  I picked it up and put it on my chest and tried it. I seem to think – the reader can laugh out loud, but never doubt what I say – that I was experiencing a sensation that was not entirely physical, but came over me like a scalding heat; as if the letter Not made of red cloth, but a red-hot soldering iron. I shuddered, and involuntarily let go and let the scarlet letter fall to the floor.
  As a result, the author’s rational analysis gave way to his rich imagination and profound concept of original sin, and this awareness runs through the creation of “The Scarlet Letter”, making it a work “burning the flames of hell”. The survival and development trajectory of Hester, an alternative marginalized woman in the Puritan society, clearly reflects Hawthorne’s creative psychology and views on women. Hester Prynne’s sin is a crime of adultery on the surface, but from the perspective of the “Bible” and mythological prototypes, its sin is also a sin inherent in human beings. The content and results of the “Scarlet Letter” discussed by the author Beyond specific events and historical time and space, it has a broad generalization.
  In Hawthorne’s pen, Hester Prynne appears as a proud lady with a majestic demeanor, and here Hawthorne’s position is far different from those of the ruthless Boston residents, who pity himself Without hesitation, the brush strokes point to the criminal woman: the mother holding the child, shining with the brilliance of motherhood, facing all the inhabitants and neighbors with a calm attitude. “Anyone who had seen her before, who had expected her to be eclipsed in the clouds of disaster, were amazed, and even startled, when they saw her flashing so beautifully that it almost made the surrounding Her misfortune and guilt form a circle.” Under the gazes and harsh words of many “right-faced” men and ruthless women, Hester Prynne walked from the prison gate to the gallows of the market— -this

A humiliating torture platform destined to make her life unforgettable. In this regard, Hawthorne could not help but comment: “I think, no matter what the fault of the individual may be, there is no more atrocity like this violation of our ordinary human nature, which prohibits the sinner from hiding his shameful face. And That’s what the punishment was meant to be.” In the chapter “The Market,” Hawthorne offers a great deal of verbal praise and silent support for his preferred female native figure, while the harsh public side of Hester’s trial has To be ruthlessly criticized, a series of positive descriptions about Hester embody the author’s daring contempt for Hester, his revolt against Puritan rule, and his affirmation of the pursuit of freedom and humanity.
  In view of the embarrassing situation of his mother when he was young and the embarrassment and marginal status of his own life caused by it, Hawthorne brought women’s issues into the vision of his original sin concept, so that this ancient concept has new meaning and different content. He did not simply identify Hayes as a criminal slut in Puritan society, but he was sensitively aware that the root of Hester’s tragedy lies in the tragic role played by women in male society in a particular era. In order to live on the same land as her lover, Hester Prynne lived a life of asceticism as a nun after the trial. , while she herself was usually dressed in the roughest and darkest of colors, and she gave all her surplus wealth to the poor, save for her adorning little Pearl; Insulted by the poor to whom she gave alms, attacked by women of the upper classes “peacefully and viciously”, and in fact regarded as a “martyr”, she was cast aside by society, and with the exception of the elven child Pearl, she She lived in the fringes of Puritan society for 2000 years, in the loneliness of one person, in a spiritual war that should have been publicly undertaken by two people, but in fact she was the only one. There was no gunpowder, but it was not peaceful. At the same time, her loneliness and her forbearance to everything have tempered her mind, making her turn her enthusiasm and emotions into wise thinking about human things, making her a pioneer who is devoted to thinking about how to build a harmonious relationship between men and women figure.
  However, we must admit that The Scarlet Letter is a work under a religious background. Its mission is only to explore original sin and its consequences. On this premise, it truly reflects the living conditions of women with female self-consciousness in Puritan society. The author’s creative motivation and the limitations of religious views determine that Hawthorne’s view of women is contradictory after all. The development trend of the plot and the ending of the story should be attributed to Hawthorne’s deep-rooted view of sin. He stubbornly emphasized the role of “Scarlet Letter” Providence and abused his imagination. He believes that the scarlet letter on Hester’s chest is not an ordinary red cloth, but a sign of sin that has been burned red by “the flames of hell”, and has “burned deeply into Hester’s chest”; He ingeniously designed the chapter “The Pastor’s Night Tour”, in which the pastor and the old servant of the church saw the giant A in the sky with his own eyes. The description seems to be just to highlight the punishment of God. He arranged seven years of suffering for Hester’s atonement. On the one hand, he affirmed the virtue of Hester’s penance, and on the other hand, he denied her too much freedom of thought. “The tendency of her fate made her a free man. The scarlet letter is her passport. Shame, despair, loneliness! These are her teachers, and they are stern and rough teachers. They strengthen her and give her She’s made many mistakes.” More importantly, he punishes Hester by making Pearl, the elf-like child who lives with Hester, as a living “scarlet letter” in front of all eyes, and little Pearl plays the role from birth. Laughing at, attacking, and questioning the character with the suspicious scarlet letter on her mother’s chest, it was not until the priest and Hester stood in public for a public confession that little Pearl was able to remove her unruly wildness and restore the gentleness that a girl on earth should have. . In this regard, Hawthorne deliberately exaggerated: “She will grow up between the joys and sorrows of human beings, and will never be against the world, but become a woman in the world. Pearl, as a painful messenger, Her mother’s mission has also been completed.” The priest’s death heralded the final failure of Hester’s escape plan and love hope; finally, Hester’s return brought Hawthorne’s concept of original sin to a climax, and he let Hester Deliberately returned to New England from Europe to continue to bear the long-lost shame, to continue to wear the “scarlet letter” representing sin, and to continue the great cause of redemption she deserved, “Here she sinned; she was here to grieve. ; she will also repent here.”
  Therefore, in the work “The Scarlet Letter”, which is based on the exploration of “evil” and the concept of original sin, although Hawthorne described in detail the life and fate of ordinary men and women under the strict ideology of Calvinism, and attacked religious persecution in his work, But he could not get rid of the influence of Puritanism, and the concept of original sin of religious mysticism influenced Hawthorne’s creation, so it also determined that his conception of women was ultimately contradictory. Hawthorne does some reflections on feminism in the nineteenth century in his work, and he does not deny the possibility of constructing a more rational whole relationship between man and woman under the divine light of heaven, and he also expresses his appreciation for Hester’s. A series of virtues were praised and glorified; but he believed that the revelation of truth could only be borne by other women, and Hester was ineligible because she had sinned against the very nature of a woman. Hawthorne emphasized: Women’s liberation can obtain real rights and happiness, but the premise is to keep their duties, to be insulated from sin, to develop themselves in normal interpersonal relationships, and to establish a harmonious relationship between the sexes on a more solid foundation.

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