“It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates. Hatred, by a gradual and quiet process, will even be transformed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation of the original feeling of hostility.” One of the most important themes in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is his intellectual way of examining human nature. The quotation above demonstrates that Hawthorne considers indispensable goodness regarding human nature. Hawthorne also distinguishes that in real life situations the goodness of human nature is overturned due to a person’s ego. This essay will provide one how Hawthorne demonstrates his belief on human nature using examples from his novel.Order now
As The Scarlet Letter progresses protagonist, Hester Prynne, who develops from a character who is practically exiled from reality to a significant symbol of her community. To begin the novel, Hester Prynne is released from prison on account of being guilty of adultery. She has made a scarlet letter A and wears this on her chest as a sign for her sins and as a way to try to gain forgiveness from god. The way the Puritan society portrays Hester is as one who should be punished severely for her actions, not as a mother with a new born child.
Hester, herself feels as if she has to face the consequences and live the rest of her life in shame, she begins to feel that she owes the community in return for her actions and becomes a nurse to many around her. Others begin to respect her for her care and work towards others, but it is still very difficult for to be forgiven completely as she is rejected by everyone public; Although the community will welcome her inside their homes for her services when they are in need. However, with all the negative attention brought upon Hester, she will be able to make an alteration in who she is due to her powerful personality, and with time society views the “A” now as a good thing rather then something bad which represents the love demonstrated in the quote above.
The ego comes into play by the societies actions towards Hester; she is now trapped with selfishness of human nature. Even though she is allowed in people’s homes and appreciated by the families inside, she is greatly avoided and hated on the street. The ego that the community faces is the fear what others think of them and how they might act towards someone who is candidly welcoming to Hester.
Hester has to face the selfishness of another character and from that she endured a great deal of struggle. Dimmesdale is the character in the Scarlet Letter who commits the adultery with Hester, however only Hester’s crime was made public and Dimmesdale’s identity was never revealed. Dimmesdale is confronted with emotional dilemmas as well as physical pain due to his psychological state for his wrong doings that he commited. Dimmesdale who is in love Hester, is also quite selfishness, because of his role in the community he did not to admit that he was truly Hester’s lover. His selfishness causes Hester to suffer and continue to live remote from society. Nathaniel Hawthore is trying to prove to the reader using Dimmesdale’s actions that one’s selfishness doesn’t always protect you, but it actually brings pain.
The author also applies this quote to human nature and the Puritan society. He views Puritan society as altering human nature; human nature loves and forgives, Puritan society leaves no room for forgiveness and emphasizes that of selfishness and hatred. In this type of culture there is no place for questioning or challenging what is wrong or right. Hawthorne gives the impression that the Puritan society is that it doesn’t fit human nature because of not allowing forgiveness which is stated within the bible. The quotation used above conveys a particularly optimistic belief on human nature in such a novel which is full of punishment, guilt and justice. Hawthorne appears to be observing that humans as individuals are good and loving instead of hateful and evil. However, when one is left to fight for them self the positive behaviors are generally substituted by hatred and ones ego.