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A Thematic Analysis of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Author(s): Parvin Ghasemi | Pyeaam Abbasi

Journal: K@ta : a Biannual Publication on the Study of Language and Literature
ISSN 1411-2639

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: appearance | reality | society | Puritan Culture | individual | religion | love | sable | gules

ABSTRACT
The Scarlet Letter is yet another story of the never-ending conflict of individuals versus society in which the recurrent theme of appearance versus reality is central and woven into different elements of the novel. The significance of this theme lies in the fact that it is adopted by both the Puritan Culture to subjugate its members and hide the truth, and by a protagonist who claims a new identity and violates the Puritanical codes. This is traceable in two major binary oppositions elaborated in this paper as: Society / Individual; and Religion / Love with a look at the two characters of Dimmesdale / Hester and the two colours of Sable / Gules. This paper is an attempt to show how these binary oppositions work, throughout the novel, to stress appearance as a tool for fixing Puritanical codes, and reality as a tool for constructing new ones.

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