Writing a book summary or analysis of a classical literary piece is a common assignment that students should be ready to complete every day. Its nature forces you to read an original story, test your writing skills, and delve into the author’s commentaries and opinions. What are interesting Scarlet Letter themes? The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a rich novel in terms of its ideas, and that’s why many teachers choose it for this type of academic writing for years.
A list of great ideas for Scarlet Letter essay topics
If you need to write a book summary on the Scarlet Letter and you don’t know how to choose a good topic idea, look for useful suggestions - homework help websites. What are they? Use these top Scarlet Letter themes for your inspiration:
- Pearl’s role in the transformation of Hester,
- Physical settings and their functions in the Scarlet Letter,
- The exploration of Hester’s identity,
- The analysis of Chillingworth’s revenge ideas,
- The effectiveness and purpose of sphere imagery,
- The narrator vs the Puritan: use of symbols,
- Pearl is a symbol of Hester’s conscience,
- Differences between Dimmesdale and Hester,
- Pearl: a curse of a blessing for her mother,
- Different literary devices: their types and use in the Scarlet Letter,
- When a woman gains personal power and breaks cultural bonds,
- Hester Prynne: a saint or a sinner,
- The Scarlet Letter: a commentary on American history,
- Contrasting behaviors of adults and children in the plot,
- Conformity and hypocrisy in the Scarlet Letter,
- The Scarlet Letter is the embodiment of romanticism,
- The Puritan community and sins: compare punishments for men and women,
- Inherently flawed people: Hawthorne’s ideas,
- Explore how symbolism, word choice, and tone contribute to character development,
- Hester: her self-created identity and the image created by the society.
Feel free to tweak these interesting Scarlet Letter themes. Don’t hesitate to refine them to end up with a relevant and substantial thesis for your literary analysis of this famous book. Please check our narrative essay topics as well.
The Scarlet Letter: major themes
Different themes in this novel apply to different characters, and the most important ones include:
- Truth and guilt
The author also touches moral issues, passion, etc. Cite interesting phrases in your academic paper.
This theme is most applicable to Hester because people determine her identity for her from the very beginning of the story. For example, they publicly shame her and force Hester to wear the A on clothes to let everyone know that she is an adulteress. Hester is a very complex character. She forms her unique identity as the plot evolves.
Hester is an independent and strong woman, but she takes her role as a mother too seriously because of her isolation from other people. She tries to be good to others and help them. That’s why the A changes from a sin mark to the new symbol of her self-empowerment as the woman keeps developing her identity. Read the text to find strong evidence. Decide what your thesis statement will be.
The Puritans were quite an intense group of Christians who didn’t believe in dancing or music, and they’re very cruel to sinners, though every person sins. What does sinning mean? Ask this question to end up with an original topic.
Although the Puritans consider all sins to be equally bad, the Scarlett Letter introduces a different point of view, and its plot opens with Hester being shamed for her adultery that everybody in the town knows about. The novel deals with the sins of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.
Chillingworth suspects Dimmesdale of being Pearl’s father, but he decided to live with that and keep tormenting him instead of revealing everyone what he knows. Dimmesdale suffers a huge sin because he’s a hypocrite. He earns public respect by denying his sins. Both characters die in the end, thus showing readers that their sins deserve harsh punishment, not the act of adultery that Hester committed.
ReligionReligion is another important theme. Failure to obide by the religious rules during the Puritan period was condemended and severely pushished. Thus, this topic goes close to the issue of sin. One of such rules is romantic relations out of marriage. Hester has a romantic affair with Dimmesdale at the absence of her hsband. The consequences of breaking this rule the woma and her daugter face. They are forced to live out of the city close to the forest. On the other hand Dimmesdale avoids any punishment due to keeping his secret a secret as well as his status.
PuritanismPuritanism is heavily criticized in the story. Puritan laws are presentented as discriminating, unfair, narrow-minded, and prejudicial. As in case of two equaly guilty people (Hester and Dimmesdale), one is punished while the other released. Religion is mixed with the law, and both are wrongly interpreted. Such as, an innocent child (Pearl) has to bear the punishment for the sins of her mother.
Public truth and guiltAnother prominent issue that goes through the story is public truth and guilt. Hester reveals and admits commiting a sin, for which she and her daughter are punished. Regardless of all the hurdles she had to face, the woman does not reveal the name of her lover. She is brave and true to herslef. On the other hand, Dimmesdale, her lover, keeps this secret for seven years. It undermines his health, and he finally gives up and reveals the truth to the society.
One more example is Chillingworth. A man who pretends to be Dimmesdale's friend but is his enemy indeed. A man who who is neither honest with others not himself.
The author shows this theme in the Scarlet Letter through Dimmesdale who seems to be a much better man than Chillingworth, but he lies to himself. The story shows how dangerous it can be. The entire community respects him because Dimmesdale is a church leader and a talented orator who helps people when they have problems. He condemns Hester for adultery while being her lover. People treat Hester as an outcast and praise Dimmesdale as an honorable man, though they took part in the same sin. His guilt and hypocrisy ruin his life.
LoveLove or rather passion is another main topic in the novel. Dimmesdale and Hester bring their love fighting agains religion, laws, and condemnation. However, it is not just the feeling they have through the years. They suffer a lot due to their passion. Hester even has to bear all the consequences of this love. But regardless of all the difficulties she faces, she never reveals the name of the lover. In this novel, love is showed as not just the feelong, but what helps two people grow stronger.
Chillingworth is a man who scares all readers because the author portrays him as the epitome of evil, and his primary act is seeking revenge. He never loved Hester. Chillingworth is angry to find out about another’s man child. He thinks that public humiliation is a good punishment for her and decides to find her lover and torture him. Chillingworth gets close to Dimmesdale as a doctor. He represents revenge to an extreme and forces Dimmesdale to confess his sins in front of other people in the town. Chillingworth dies because his mission is over.
Major Scarlet Letter themes of hypocrisy, sin, revenge, identity, and others are still important in modern non-Puritan society. Use the above-mentioned examples and ideas to write an interesting and compelling literary analysis, impress your professors, and earn high grades. These suggestions will help you improve writing skills.
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