The Scarlet Letter Compare And Contrast Essay

A Comparison of "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Minister's Black Veil"

722 Words3 Pages

Throughout his literary endeavors, Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism to present a certain theme that pertains to human nature and life. In his works, The Scarlet Letter and "The Minister's Black Veil", Hawthorne uses symbolism to present a common theme pertaining to religion; that though manifested sin will ostracize a person from society, un-confessed sin will destroy the soul.

The central theme in The Scarlet Letter is that manifested sin will ostracize one from society and un-confessed sin will lead to the destruction of the inner spirit. Hawthorne uses the symbol of the scarlet letter to bring out this idea. In the novel, Hester is forced to wear the scarlet letter A (the symbol of her sin) because she committed adultery…show more content…

He suffers total deterioration, both physical and mental due to his hiding of his adultery and not claiming Pearl as his daughter. He physically tortures himself and over a period of several years he becomes emaciated and weak. It is only when he announces to the public atop the same scaffold that Hester had to bear her shame seven years earlier, that he gains relief and frees himself from the sin that plagued him, which allows him to die peacefully.

In the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil," Nathaniel Hawthorne presents a similar theme to that of The Scarlet Letter through the usage of the black veil that the Reverend Mr. Hooper drapes across his face to hide his secret transgressions from the world. The veil the clergyman wears is voluntary punishment, in contrast to the scarlet letter that Hester was forced to wear, though it's consequences are similar for Reverend Hooper, as he becomes an outcast of society as well. Though everyone knows Hester's sin, no one can even find the courage to ask Father Hooper why he wears his veil. When his wife, Elizabeth, finally does ask him, he gives her no clear answer and thus the veil's meaning is ambiguous and the townspeople all have their different theories for it including sin, sorrow, and weak eyes; though most fingers pointed towards a secret sin. The ambiguity of the black veil is similar to the ambiguity of the scarlet letter. At first the letter stood for the sin of adultery

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The Fine Art of Comparing and Contrasting

A comparison and contrast essay is exactly what it sounds like, taking two people, places, things or event, showing how they are similar and how they are significantly different. Frequently used in literary analysis, comparison and contrast essays are used to compare the styles and techniques used by two or more writers. For instance, the books The Scarlet Letter and To Kill a Mockingbird have significant similarities, but are two very different stories. A comparison and contrast essay on these two books would present the similarities and differences between the two books, citing specific examples and providing insightful quotes from each book to support the presentation.

In The Scarlet Letter and To Kill a Mockingbird, the authors both show the impact of social injustice and the incredible weight of unspoken secrets. In The Scarlet Letter, the heroine is harshly judged for an extra-marital affair and ostracized by the Puritan community she lives in. In To Kill a Mockingbird, a black man is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman during the 1950s and is unfairly convicted.

In The Scarlet Letter, the woman�s lover suffers severe psychological strain and illness due to the secret he keeps regarding their affair. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the guilty party (the victim�s own father) is driven by his unspoken secret to silence anyone who challenges his version of the events.

Both books also address the strong conflicts generated by their respective storylines, though in significantly different manners. In The Scarlet Letter, the conflict is more internal, presented in the shame and inner turmoil experienced by the characters. To Kill a Mockingbird focuses more on the external, social conflicts experienced by and surrounding the characters.

The two books are also quite different. The Scarlet Letter presents the story from a position of detachment, disclosing the story from the viewpoint of an impersonal narrator. To Kill a Mockingbird, in contrast, is written in first person from the viewpoint of the young girl in the story, making the story more personal.

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