A Research of Puritanism Its Influence on The Scarlet Letter毕业论文
2.1 A General Survey of Puritanism———————————————————–3
2.1.1 The origin of Puritanism—————————————————————–4
2.1.2 Basic doctrines of Puritanism———————————————————–4
2.1.3 Puritanism’s influence on Hawthorne’s thought and writing———————–5
2.2 Puritanic Elements Demonstrated by the Characters———————————–5
2.2.1 Hester’s rebellion to Puritanism———————————————————6
2.2.2 Dimmesdale’s conflicts in Puritanism ————————————————-7
2.2.3 Chillingworth’s revenge upon puritan maritalis————————————–8
2.2.4 Pearl’s birth is embodiment of nature————————————————–9
2.3 Hawthorne’s Interpretation of Puritanism in the Novel——————————–9
2.3.1 Polysemy of the symbols—————————————————————10
2.3.2 Multiple meanings of scarlet———————————————————–10
2.3.3 Different significance of names——————————————————–11
A Research of Puritanism and Its Influence on The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne has been honoured as one of the most influential American novelists and short story writers in the nineteenth century. Most of his works are influenced by Puritanism under the background of life in New England. He gets the knowledge about the society and the world with the Calvinistic morality and devotes his life to exploring the solution of sin. Although the common readers didn’t pay attention to his works at that time, some of the great people gave high evaluation. In The Cycle of American Literature, Spiller said, ‘To study the art of Hawthorne, must understand his life experiences, because they are the cause and result relations.’ (Spiller, 64)
Hawthorne has many works in his whole life, and many of them are short stories in his early stage, for example, Young Goodman Brown(1835), The Minister’s Black Veil(1836), Twice-Told Tales(1837), Rappaccini’s Daughter(1844), Mosses from an Old Manse(1846). In 1848, he finished his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter(1850), which was regarded the most important work in his life. After The Scarlet Letter was published, he continued to write more novels, including The House of the Seven Gables(1851), The Blithedale Romance(1852), The Marble Faun: Or, The Romance of Monte Beni(1860).
The Scarlet Letter written by Hawthorne is one of the most significant novels in American literature in the nineteenth century. The novel is short but very moving. The heroine Hester Prynne, a young and beautiful woman married a doctor Chillingworth. When they prepared to immigrate into Boston, Prynne’s husband was captured by Indian. So she arrived there alone. Prynne felt lonely because she was always alone for two years. Then she fell in love with Dimmesdale, a young minister and then they had an illegitimate child Pearl. When her ‘adultery’ was discovered, she was punished to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’. The letter ‘A’ remained an iconic form of punishment, which was used as a public warning. Her husband, Chillingworth , an old man, tried his best to torture Dimmesdale. He disguised as a friend who could be trusted, the opposite side could pour forth his feelings to him, including fear and repentance. Dimmesdale, suffering from both physical and spiritual torment, depressed and eventually died. After Dimmesdale died, Chillingworth no longer had a person to torture. Similarly, Dimmesdale’s revelation that he is Pearl’s father removes Hester from the old’s mans clutches. Having lost the objects of his revenge, the leech had nothing to do but depress to die. Prynne, tried her best to be a kind person, working hard, won people’s respect finally. Her daughter, Pearl married a noble man, having a happy life.
Since the advent of The Scarlet Letter, foreign critics never stop discussing it, including its subject content, structure, artistic creation, etc. When Lesile A Fielder commented on The Scarlet Letter, he pointed out that the book was full of temptation. “It is notorious that The Scarlet Letter is a seduction story without a seduction, a parable of the fall with the fall off stage and before the action proper begins.” (Lesile, 34) In 1879, Henry James in his Nathaniel Hawthorne a classical document in the literature, thought this book is the most definitive novel in America. In 1964, in Hawthorne’s Short Stories, Newton Arvin analyzed the reflection of Puritanism in Hawthorne’s works. During the twenties century, the study on Hawthorne has more explicit categories, such as new criticism, feminist, structuralism, new historicism, post-colonial direction and so on. In 1986, Nina Baym’s The Scarlet Letter: A Reading put more notice on contemporary feminism. In 2008, Claudia, Johnson’s Interpretation of The Scarlet Letter is more comprehensive analysis in the world, which analyses not only the meanings of names and theme of story, but also the sides from religion, society, psychology, etc.
The study of Hawthorne is not only popular in America but also in China. Scholars in China analyze Hawthorne’s writing such as symbolism and dig out the deep thought in the novel. They analyze the meaning of the letter A, the archetypes in the Bible. In 2001, Liang Gong mentioned Hawthorne’s novel in Christian Literature, pointing out that The Scarlet Letter is not only influenced by Puritanism, but also utilized biblical prototypes and classical allusion skillfully. Nowadays many critics in their articles analyze Hawthorne’s original sin, his religious belief and his view on feminism social and individual respectively. In 2007, Su Yuxiao analyzed Sin and Redemption: Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter from a Christian Ethical Perspective from the perspective of original sin ; In 2013, Chen Qin analyzed Hawthorne’ s Ambivalent Attitude towards Puritanism—Inheritance and Rebelliousness from the perspective of religious belief; In 2014, Yang Xiaomei analyzed Hawthorne’s Ambivalent Attitude towards Women in The Scarlet Letter from the perspective from feminism.
This thesis consists of three chapters. In the first part, it discusses Hawthorne’s life, story’s summary and purpose of writing. The second chapter, it focuses on the relation between Hawthorne and Puritanism, about the origin and development of Puritanism and its influence on Hawthorne. Furthermore, it analyzes the details of the novel. Elements of Puritanism are demonstrated by the characters and artistic methods. After detailed analyzing, in the third chapter, the paper gives an overall understanding of Hawthorne’s understanding of Puritanism.