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nathanial hawthorne is an extremely renowned american writer of fiction. he not only has created quiet a few classic novels, but also has written quantities of thought-provoking short stories. until now, hawthorne and his works have been the focus of discussion from the chinese and foreign scholars. the theme of the scarlet letter is characterized by multiplicity and various conclusions are dram in the filed of the thematic studies. it seems that scholars have shown major concern with such diathesis as the original sin, the moral consciousness of hawthorne, religious belief, individual and society, thoughts of female doctrine and the conflict between the head and the heart. however, very few scholars have ever done a thorough research into the loneliness diathesis of the novel. these detailed analyses four characters’ loneliness and express the aspects of loneliness in the scarlet letter.
key words
the scarlet letter; loneliness; symbol
摘 要
纳撒尼尔.霍桑是美国非常著名的小说家。WWw.11665.COm 他不仅创造了若干部经典的长篇小说,而且还书写了数量可观且耐人寻味的短篇小说.至今为止,霍桑和他的作品一直是中外学者讨论的对象。《红字》是霍桑的代表作品,它的主题具有多样性的特点,因此在主题研究领域存在各种不同的结论。大部分学者偏重于探讨小说中的原罪意识、霍桑的道德观念、宗教信仰和女性主义思想、个人与社会的关系以及大脑和心灵之间的冲突等因素, 而对小说中孤独因素的深入研究并不多见。 本文分析小说中的四位主人公各自的孤独感,表达霍桑在小说《红字》中体现的孤独因素。

the scarlet letter was declared a classic almost immediately after its publication in 1850, and it has stayed in print and in favor ever since, it has been hailed both as the first symbolic novel and as the first psychological novel. but what really secures the place of the scarlet letter in the literary history is its treatment of human nature, sin, guilt, and pride-all timeless, universal themes-from a uniquely american point of view. there are many different comments and criticism and on the writer’s family background, the novel multiple themes and writing styles, the novel’s social and historical backdrops together with the novel’s significance in society and literature. this article has done a thorough research into the aspects of loneliness in the novel. the thesis is to elaborate four characters’ loneliness: hester, chillingworth, dimmesdale and little pearl. they are having different loneliness. hester is a lonely pursuer for love; chilingworth is a lonely revenge-seeker; dimmesdale is a lonely beggar for god’s grace; pearl is a lonely child asking for recognition. there are many symbolic representations in the scarlet letter. such as names, appearances of the characters, some special events and actions, these can symbolize loneliness.
i. a brief information about hawthorne and the scarlet letter.
a. a brief introduction about hawthorne
hawthorne was born on the fourth of july, 1804 in salem, massachusetts. some of his ancestors were big shots in seventeenth-century new england, which was under the control of puritanism. one of them was a colonial magistrate; notorious for his participation in the persecution of quakers, and another was a judge at the salem witchcraft trail in 1692. gradually, the family fortune declined. hawthorne’s father was a sea captain, who died in an accident and left his mother and him behind to struggle to live for themselves. nathaniel hawthorne is an extremely renowned american writer of fiction. herman melville even hails him as the “american shakespeare”. he is the first american writer to define his works as romance; his romantic writing is a landmark of the romantic period in american literature. besides, hawthorne is one of the forefathers of symbols.
hawthorne’s works mainly include four romances: the scarlet letter, the house of the seven gables, the blithedale romance, and the marble faun, three hort stories collections: twice-told tales, moss from an old manse, and the snow-image and other twice-told tales, and two myth collection: a wonder-book for girls and boys and tanglewood tales for girls and boys.
b. a brief contents about the scarlet letter
the story of the scarlet letter is a triangular love affair set in the seventeenth-century boston, then a puritan settlement. an aging english scholar sends his beautiful young wife, hester prynne by name, to make their new home in new england. but for unknown reasons, the husband has not joined her in the colony. the consensus is that he has been lost at sea. while waiting for her husband, hester loved with arthur dimmesdale, her puritan minister, and has given birth to a child, pearl. the love affair between hester and dimmesdale results in adultery. hester confesses but refuses to reveal the name of the child’s father. as a punishment, she is sentenced to three hours on the scaffold and a lifetime of wearing a scarlet letter “a” on her chest, the mark of her shame. when the elderly husband comes over two years later, he is bewildered to see his wife in pillory, wearing the scarlet letter “a” on her breast, holding her illicit child in her arms. the wronged husband, whose pride has been deeply wounded, is determined to seek out the adulterer and vows revenge on the man who has cuckolded him. the old scholar the disguises himself as a physician and changes his name to roger chillingworth. gradually, he discovers that the villain is no other than the much-admired brilliant young clergyman, arthur dimmesdale. though weighed down by the secret knowledge of his and hypocrisy, dimmesdale is fearful of the consequences of confession, which would be more severe for the minister. he deals with his guilt by tormenting himself physically and psychologically, developing a serious heart condition as a result. in the meanwhile, his conscience is ruthlessly preyed upon by chillingworth. dimmesdale cuts himself off from community withers spiritually as well as physically.

on the other hand, hester’s response to the scarlet letter “a” and her sin is a positive one. though living on the fringe of the community and suffering social ostracism, she nevertheless bears her punishment courageously, expiates her sin by performing good deeds so that the community gradually changes its attitude and some of her peers even show their trust and admiration for her honesty and skillfulness. at one time hester plans to leave america and flee to europe, where the true lovers can live with pearl as a family. the day before the ship is to sail, dimmesdale preaches his most eloquent sermon for the townspeople. afterwards he impulsively mounts the scaffold with his lover and daughter and confesses his sin and hypocrisy at public gathering. he falls dead, as pearl kisses him.
frustrated in his revenge, chillingworth died a year later. but in the very withering he makes his last will and testament and bequeaths a very considerable amount of property to little pearl, the daughter of hester prynne by dimmesdale. as heiress to his fortune, pearl grows up to be married into a noble family of europe.
ⅱ.causes the aspects of loneliness in the scarlet letter
a. hawthorne’s loneliness in his personal life
hawthorne’s father, who is a well known ship captain died at sea and left his wife. then his wife at the age of twenty-eight, with children aged 6 and 4 and an infant of a few month. she withdrew entirely from society, and permitted the habit of solitude to grow up to such a degree that she actually remitted a strict hermit to the end of long life. hawthorne himself though that such an unhealthy and separated family atmosphere provided a morbid consciousness that paralyzed his powers. when hawthorne after leaving the bowdon college, he returned to his uncle’s old house in salem. he devoted himself to reading and writing with less contact with the family members as well as outside world. one of his close friends jonathan cilley wrote:
i love hawthorne. i admire him, but i do not know him. he lives in a mysterious world of though and imagination while he never permits me to enter (rubinstein, 1988:82).
from his family and his friends provided clues to hawthorne’s life were feelings of gloom and alienation.
b. social and cultural backdrops of the novel
the story in the scarlet letter was happened in boston in the 1600’s. at that time, the puritans were prosecuted in england because they refused to abide by the rules of the church of england, and then they left their home and came to american as permanent settlers. they were forced to settle in a new land far from homeland. the pilgrim fathers suffered terrible hardships during the first winter and half of them died. in order to survive, they had to fight against the natural disasters and endure loneliness in the new world.
ⅲ. four characters’ loneliness in the scarlet letter
a. hester prynne’s lonely pursuer for love
hester prynne is the main character in the novel; she was an honesty and goddess woman.
hester spent her happy childhood times with her parents, later; she grew up to be a beautiful young lady with an extremely passionate nature. she married with a handicapped scientist –chillingworth. chillingworth regarded himself as ‘a man of thought, the bookworm of great libraries-a man already in decay, have the best years to feed the hunger dream of knowledge’(nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 29). in contrast, hester was in her budding youth, and had ‘a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale. she had dark and abundant hair…and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes’ (nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 56). she had an impulsive and passionate nature, whereas the husband devoted himself wholly to seeking the so-called truth in books. chillingworth did not have an eye for hester’s youth and beauty. for the young and beautiful wife, passion and true love should be the basic principle and purpose of a holy marriage. the old and lonely husband was physically deformed. to make the matter worse, the husband indulged himself in alchemy and in medical research, totally neglecting his wife’s inner minds for much of the time. the unhappy marriage indicated that there was no mutual understanding and communication between her and husband. the parents did not know what hester expected of her mr. right. her marriage life was unromantic. the attitude of her husband made her loneliness too much. she need love from her husband, she was lonely.
when she settled alone in boston, a place far from her parental home, the scenes of hometown were foreign to her. the connection between hester and her relative in england seemed to have broken off. she often memorized that ‘her father’s face, with its bald brow and reverend white beard…her mother’s too, with the look of heedful and anxious love’(nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 27). children will naturally recollect parents’ affection and happy moments spent together with relatives or friends, but then ,she hadn’t .she was a lonely child deserted by her parents.

hester is a woman in need of consolation from her lover-dimmesdale. when she came to boston alone, for a single woman, she fell lonely. then she met the minister-dimmesdale. they were fall in love each other, but this action was not allowed by the puritan. they incarcerated hester and she must wear the scarlet letter “a” on her bosom, the scarlet letter “a” symbolic meaning is “adultery”.
hester lived in the seclusion on the outskirts of the town, in all her intercourse with society, there was nothing that made she feel as if she belonged to it. every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs and senses than the rest of human kind. hester sometimes burst into passionate tears, since she has heart-smitten at the bewildering and confusing spell that so often came between hester and her beloved daughter. little pearl was all her world, but there existed mental distance between the mother and her daughter. ‘sometimes, once in many days, or perchance in many months, she felt an eye-a human eye-upon the ignominious brand that seemed to give a momentary relief, as if half of her agony were shared’(nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 32). the daydreaming indicated that hester had hoped that her lover could to comfort her and therefore she would be relieved from the state of loneliness for the time being.
b. chillingworth’s lonely revenge-seeker
roger chillingworth was an abandoned husband by his wife. he was an old and lonely scholar in england dehumanized by a life abstruse studying. his twisted, stooped, deformed shoulders mirror his distorted soul. he ignored his wife for most of the time. he made a mistake of marrying a young and beautiful wife, who had an impulsive and passionate nature. for hester, marriage was not a sacramental union if the couples did not love each other. she considered her marriage with chillingworth as invalid, for she reminded him, ‘i felt no love (for you), nor feigned any’.  husband did not deserve true love from his wife and he was destined it live through a lonely married life. in view of the striking different between chillingworth and hester, their union can be regarded as unnatural relationships of age and youth, deformity and youth, and a studious mind and a passionate nature. when hester came to boston alone and she fell in love with arthur dimmesdale, which resulted in adultery. from then on, roger chillingworth was totally abandoned by his young and passionate wife.
roger chillingworth was an unapproachable stranger to little pear. pearl, the daughter of hester and dimmesdale, is often defined by many critics as the sin child, the unholy result of hester’s and arthur dimmesdale fall from grace. pearl’s existence brought humiliation upon her mother’s legal husband chillingworth. it was natural for them to keep a distance physically and mentally whenever they came across each other.
when chillingworth knew the facts,he became a lonely revenge-seeker. he appeared as calm, gentle, passionless. there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in his unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever reeked upon an enemy. to make himself the one trusted friend, to whom should be confided all the fear, the remorse, the agony, the ineffectual repentance, the backward rush of sinful thoughts, expelled in vain! all that guilty sorrow, hidden from the world, whose great heart would have pitied and forgiven, to be revealed to him, the pitiless, to him, the unforgiving! all that dark treasure to be lavished on the very man, to whom nothing else could so adequately pay the debt of vengeance.
to be a revenge-seeker, forlorn creature that he was, and more wretched than his victim. roger chillingworth will lonely in his whole life.
c. dimmesdale’s lonely beggar for god’s grace
dimmesdale was a hypocritical minister isolating himself from the community and his lover. he fell in love with hester, he was the adulterer, but he did not admit when hester had been in quested. dimmesdale was guilty of two sins. one was the commission of adultery with hester, and the other was his cowardly and hypocritical failure to confess. unlike hester who openly exposed her sin, dimmesdale lived with a buried sin of his own, which was the source of his endless agony. in private, arthur dimmesdale tried to avoid a truly intimate relationship with his flock so that the community could not enter his world. he seemed to be at a loss in the pathway of human existence, and could be only at ease in some seclusion of his own. he walked alone, often in shadowy bypaths.
he was a father with indifference to his daughter-pearl. dimmesdale was a young clergyman and he should be wholly devoted to god and followed all the strict puritan rules. in a moment of weakness, dimmesdale and hester became lovers, and a baby pearl resulted from their union as the product of the sin of adultery. hester had made her sin publicly known, whereas dimmesdale attempted to hide the shameful truth about him. thus dimmesdale was further guilty of the sin of dishonesty and hypocrisy besides the sin of adultery. in order to conceal his sins and keep his social position as a pious priest, dimmesdale made strenuous efforts to keep aloof from his lover and his daughter.

to be a pious puritans, dimmesdale suffering under body disease, was gnawed and tortured by some black trouble of the soul. in his secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. oftentimes, this protestant and puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulder; laughing bitterly at himself the while, and smiting so much the more pitilessly because of that bitter laugh. it was his custom, too, as it has been that of many other pious puritans, to fast,-not, however, like them, in order to purify the body and render it the fitter medium of celestial illumination,-but rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance. he kept vigils, likewise, night after night, sometimes in utter darkness; sometimes with a glimmering lamp; and sometimes, viewing his own face in a looking-glass, by the most powerful light which he could throw upon it. he thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself.
the minister well knew-subtle, but remorseless hypocrite that he was!-the light in which his vague confession would be viewed. he had striven to put a cheat upon himself by making the avowal of a guilty conscience, but had gained only one other sin, and a self-acknowledged shame, without the momentary relief of being self-deceived. he had spoken the very truth, and transformed it into the varies falsehood. and yet, by the constitution of his nature, he loved the truth, and loathed the lie, as few men ever did. therefore, above all things else, he loathed his miserable self!
the bible begins with a story of adam and eve, which were expelled from the garden of eden for eating fruits from the tree of knowledge, and they were forced to toil on earth. the experience of hester and dimmesdale reminds readers of the story of adam and eve because, in both cases, sin result in expulsion and suffering. in the case of dimmesdale, he committed the sin of adultery and consequently he suffered a lot to gain moral regeneration and the graceful pardon from god, but in vain. his family became an unpardonable sinner because of his hidden sin. at the end of the novel, he heroically threw off the hypocrisy, pride, and the fears that had made his life an ongoing deception and mounted the steps of the scaffold in broad daylight. with his last breath dimmesdale was able to bring a certain peace to his own soul and dropped the unbearable burden in mind. in the light of his religious beliefs, dimmesdale gained moral salvation and he could go to heaven to enjoy god’s grace. according to secularism, however, the loss of life is the greatestpunishment for a sinner and dimmesdale is not at all forgiven by god.
d. pearl’s lonely asking for recognition
pearl, is the daughter of hester and dimmesdale. hester named the infant “pearl,” as being of great price-purchased with all she had-her mother’s only treasure! how strange, indeed! in other hand, because of her sham father-dimmesdale, she had no father’s love in her growing path. she lived with her mother; pearl is an elf-child of her mother. in the world, she just had mother’s love. dimmesdale for his publicity, he can’t admit pearl. he abandoned her forever.
because pearl was a serious sin for the society, when she was a child, she had no friends. pearl arrives at age that was capable of social intercourse, beyond the mother’s ever-ready smile and nonsense-words! and then what a happiness would it have been, could hester have heard her clear, birdlike voice mingling with the uproar of other childish voice, and have distinguished and unraveled her own darling’s tones, amid all the entangled outcry of a group of sportive children! but this could never be. pearl was a born outcast of the infantile world. an imp of evil, emblem and product of sin, she had no right among christened infants. nothing was more remarkable than the instinct, as it seemed, with which the child comprehended her loneliness; the destiny that had drawn an inviolable circle round about her. she wants to attention from the society.
ⅳ. symbolic representations of loneliness
symbolic is the writing technique of using symbols. a symbol is something that conveys two kinds of meaning; it is simply itself, and it stands for something other than itself. in other words, a symbol is a way of telling a story and a way of convening meaning. hawthorne was a master of symbolism. for example, the scarlet letter “a” on hester’s bosom can give us symbolic meanings, such as “adultery”, “able”, “admirable”, and “angel” (li cuiting, 1998: 224-225). in addition to the wildly quoted example concerning the symbolic way of writing to represent the loneliness and alienation of the four characters.
first, the settings were described with symbolic meanings. in the first scaffold scene, hester was standing on the scaffold aloft and far away from the crowd and the physical distance here manifested an internal alienation. later hester resided in a small cottage which was abandoned by an earlier settler. the cottage was located on the outskirts of the town, and there were no other habitations around. the detailed descriptions about the little and lonesome dwelling suggested that hester was isolated from the community. whenever hester appeared, there was wide space separating her from other citizens. ‘as was usually the case wherever hester stood, a small vacant area-a sort of magic-had formed itself about her, into which though the people were elbowing one another at a little distance, one ventured, of felt disposed to intrude’(nathaniel, hawthorne.1996:198). the fact that hester stood in a circle and others kept apart was a typical symbol of hester’s solitude. sunshine always symbolizes love and warmth whereas darkness is an emblem of alienation and loneliness in literary works. in the governor’s hall, ‘the shadow of the curtain fell on hester prynne, and partially concealed her’ (nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 66). in the forest, pearl accompanied her mother and jumped in the sunshine. curiously, the sunshine seemed to shun hester. when she attempted to gap some of the sunshine’s, it vanished. here the striking contrasts between pearl who happily romped in the sunshine and hester upon whom the shadow fell also implied hester’s loneliness.

second, the names of the four characters also expressed extra meanings. “hest” means “to command” and “pry” means “to inquire too cautiously”. the name “hester prynne” predicts that hester would live with endless inquiries from the public about her secret sin, and therefore she would be an unreliable outsider instead of a trustworthy member of the community. there is another explanation and hastier refers to the kitchen goddess in the greek mythology. “prynne” sounds like “purifying” (tina junwu, 1999:100). so the name “hester prynne” can be understood as a goddess with a purified mind, who does not belong to the human world. both explanations of the name “hester prynne” are acceptable and they tell in advance that hester would suffer isolation and alienation. the wronged husband took a false name roger chillingworth and asked his wife to keep the secret about his identity. “roger” is phonetically close to “rogue” meaning scoundrel and rascal. “chill” means “the unpleasant felling of coldness” and “chilling” means “frightening”. “worth” is the approximate homophone of “worse” (tian junwu, 1999: 102). therefore the name “roger chillingworth” may refer to a frightening devil. as his name suggested, chillingworth was a man deficient in human warmth. the loss of identity and the lack of human affection symbolized his isolation from the townspeople. the minister was called arthur dimmesdale. “dim” means “not bright” and “dale” means “valley”, so the name “dimmesdale” hints that the minister’s inner mind is like a deep and hidden valley, inaccessible to the community(tian junwu, 1999: 101). the minister’s name again is symbolic of his estrangement from his congregation. hester named her daughter “the name of great price” in the new testament, ‘purchased with all she had,-her mother’s only treasure’ (nathaniel, hawthorne.1996: 44-45). actually pearl is a kind of precious jewelry and the name indicates that little pearl is an extraordinary child and the striking difference will result in her isolation from her peers.
in addition to setting and characters’ appearances, some special events and actions can embody loneliness, too. dimmesdale speaking about his sinfulness was interpreted as humility and piety in religion. he did not trust anyone in his congregation. he often hid in his secret closed and tortured himself without pity. such
facts proved that the priest was isolated from the community. his death after his final preach in public might embody his abandonment by god. it was isolation between a sinful priest and divine god. pearl was a natural child and her birth was against the puritan laws and rules. pearl was estranged from the human society but she was in harmony with the forest and all the wild things in it. ‘the great black forest …became the playmate of the lonely infant, as well as it knew how’ (nathaniel, hawthorne.1996:167). it was alienation and loneliness between man and society. little pearl acted like an imp and her mischievous behaviors were mysterious to her mother. pearl’s father had no courage to admit her identity and pearl would wash off her father’s kiss in a brook. the isolation between parents and the child revealed the alienation among human beings. pearl was always by her mother side and she seemed to be oneness with her mother. this fact showed that pearl had no friends, no father’s love and no attention from the society. she was growing in solitude.

as far as his writing style is concerned, hawthorne has contributed a lot to both american and world literature. he is the first american writer to define his works as romances. his romantic writing is a landmark of the romantic period in american literature, and his four romances enrich the world literature as well. besides, hawthorne is one of the forefathers of symbols.
this thesis express loneliness by four characters, embody people’s psychology in the specifically society. at the same time, the scarlet letter is often used as an example to show hawthorne’s skills in using symbols.
hawthorne’s contribution to symbolism also lies in the fact that he advised his contemporary herman melville to rewrite his moby dick, which turns out to be a great success by employing symbolism in the story. hawthorne is also a master of psychological description. the science of psychoanalysis is based on sigmund freud’s theory of the instinctual drivers and c.g jung’s theory of collective unconsciousness. the theories in psychoanalysis greatly influenced modern writers, and produced a fresh way of writing: stream- of- consciousness, which was popular in the 20th century. in fact, long before the term “psychoanalysis” came into being, hawthorne had already begun to practice the technique of psychoanalytical writing to explore the inner mind of the characters. hawthorne is worthy of the title as a path-breaker in psychoanalytical writing. in terms of his thematic choices or his writing style, hawthorne is a writer ahead of his time. his literary achievements enlightened his contemporaries as well as other writers after him

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