Essay on A Romance

Submitted By swagmvster
Words: 1154
Pages: 5

Sarah Yang

A Romance

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, qualifies as a romance not because there is a presence of passion in the story, but because the novel adheres to the qualities of a romance. The qualities that validate The Scarlet Letter as a romance novel are “’astonishing events’ which are likely to have a symbolic or ideological, rather than realistic plausibility” and “the connection between character and Nature.” After examining various events from the text, it is coherent that The Scarlet Letter is a work of romance. The story itself is adorned with many astonishing events. One of which is when Pearl and Hester Prynne are in the forest. The narrator comments, “Pearl set forth, at a great pace, and, as Hester smiled to perceive, did actually catch the sunshine” (Hawthorne 174). ‘Sunshine’ is electromagnetic radiation coming from the sun. Due to this fact, it is not physically possible to grasp. So rather than Pearl literally catching the sunshine, the action is symbolic for Pearl’s nature. The sunshine is symbolic for innocence, purity, and goodness. Pearl, a child, epitomizes those traits to the fullest extent. ‘Sunshine’ also represents the divine, which shows Pearl’s strong relationship with God. After all, Hester claims that Pearl is a gift from Him. The instance Hester perceives that Pearl caught the sunshine proves that Pearl is pure and did not inherit Hester’s impurity. Therefore it is much more plausible to view this event symbolically. Another certainly astonishing event is when the townspeople describe what is causing Robert Chillingworth’s face to change, “… The fire in his laboratory had been brought from the lower regions, and was fed with infernal fuel; and so, as might be expected, his visage was getting sooty with the smoke” (Hawthorne 120). ‘Lower regions’ and ‘infernal’ refer to Hell where no prosaic human being has access to, so the fire brought from Hell and ‘infernal fuel’ can be deemed unrealistic. Instead, this explanation accounts symbolically for the eerie change of Chillingworth’s visage. His work revolves around pursuing revenge of Hester’s lover, and this vindictive nature is a deadly sin. The ‘fire in his laboratory’ is symbolic for how close in proximity to Hell his work is, meaning that it is sinful and unrighteous. His obsession with revenge is transfiguring his own appearance, and thus ‘his visage getting sooty with the smoke.’ This appearance may not necessarily be physical, but the townspeople detect that there is evil, and possibly the Devil, being embodied into Chillingworth and his work. In brief, rather than Chillingworth literally having a fire from Hell dwell in his laboratory, this event serves to be symbolic for his apparent sinfulness. A third example of an astonishing event is Arthur Dimmesdale’s mark on his breast. The explanation offered for this phenomenon is “that the awful symbol was the effect of the ever active tooth of remorse, gnawing from the inmost heart outwardly” (Hawthorne 244). The author’s choice to analogize the feeling of remorse with a gnawing tooth shows that Hawthorne meant for this event to be symbolic. It is impossible for a tooth to gnaw from the “inmost heart outwardly”, but it is possible to view this as the description of pain remorse often brings. Dimmesdale’s mark was the result of his remorse and the “ever active tooth of remorse” symbolizes his suffering. In every part of his daily life, remorse of his action of adultery inundates him. To ‘gnaw’, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary means to “wear away by persistent biting or nibbling”. Thus, the action of the “tooth… gnawing” vividly represents Dimmesdale’s pain and repentance, incessant and abrasive. So therefore, this astonishing event is much more suitable to have a figurative significance. The preceding astonishing events mentioned all have a more symbolic plausibility than realistic, validating The Scarlet Letter as a romance. Another