Fearing Miscegenation As Illustrated In The Scarlet Letter By Hawthorne

In the middle part of the nineteenth-century, it appeared that the American establishment had overcome the instabilities of its beginning stages. What had started as an inefficient and disorganized alliance of thirteen territories was able to cultivate a nationalistic pride at the great democracy that they have built. The destructions of the Revolutionary War of distant times and subsequent struggles of unity were forgotten by a new generation. Under a veneer of peace and contentment, discord was threatening to bring down the United States. For much of the previous century, racial tensions dominated the public eye. They had been a focal point of attention ever since 1808 when the controversial issue of slavery became a matter for federal division.

Unsurprisingly, ethnicity features prominently in the literature of this era. External influences have always had an impact on human psychology. Numerous works that date back to this era chronicle interactions between Caucasian settlers, other U.S. citizens, and their descendants. Many of these individuals are from Africa. However, Anglo Saxon prejudices toward black slaves were rivaled in many narratives. Paranoia whites who harvested American Indians for their own purposes was also reflected in many of these accounts. The federal government took action on several fears concerning Native Americans through policies of forced displacement. Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a good example of how this obsession with bloodline preservation shaped national ideologies and infected the intellectual outputs of the 1800s. The plot’s beginning is where the narrative’s undertones become evident. Chapter one is centred around a rosebush that can be seen on the prison’s exterior. The flower symbolizes the passion that is associated with the inmate and helps to show the contrast between the harshness displayed by the Puritan community which is very civilized, as well as the impact of nature on the city’s austerity. The forest and its inhabitants are attracted and repelled by the religious pilgrims, just like the beautiful and dangerous plant. It is clear from the beginning that the relationship between the heroine’s pregnancies and the spheres of Indian are clearly defined. Hester, standing on top of the scaffold, is interrupted by her defiance when she sees her long lost spouse. “An Indian in his native dress stood beside a white woman, who was wearing a bizarre disarray between civilized clothing and savage clothes.” (Hawthorne 52). The tale begins with suspicions about the paternity the infant Pryne is carrying.

The community is now at a point where they have reached a conclusion that involves committing a graver sin than faith. Hester is obtuse in refusing to name her partner in the crime. The gravity of these religious felonies means that the townsfolk can’t know how far the sinner goes. It is possible that she was infidelity with a foreign heathen. The outlet through which the horrors and fantasies of pale men are expressed is the mysterious physician. His “heterogeneous attire” (53), is a mixture of the terrors, verities, and rumors that Salemites have created to satisfy their curiosity and preconceptions about the scandal. Hester’s action to move to the disused cottage is similar. The heroine becomes more familiar with the lifestyle of the redman both physically and metaphorically. Hester’s decision that she will move to the outskirts instead of being independent is one of matrimony. In this way, she has chosen to give herself over to the darkest possibilities and suggestions from the woods. This behaviour is suspect to the society scrutiny that she is trying escape.

The book contains a strong connection between the fruits from the protagonist’s affairs and the realmsof the nomad. The titular seal of shame is given to the child, who is endowed with a variety of properties. Pearl is a fitting product of her mother’s lawlessness. She, “was indeed the Scarlet Letter in another form; The Scarlet Letter Endowed With Life!” (91) The little girl has a red face, both in her unique personality and in her emblem incarnate status. The seven-year old behaves with tantrums and docility.

Pearl, in that era, continued Hester’s spirit’s warfare. She was able to recognize her wild, defiant, and flighty mood and the flightiness in her temper. These were now illuminated with the morning radiance that a young child’s disposition gave them, but they might become more prolific of storms and whirlwind later in their day. (81)

This disturbing sense of unpredictability mirrors notions that might easily connote an image of a giant-sized Indian that is incapable of imposing the necessary repressive measures that characterize civilized cultures. “Hester could never help questioning at such moments whether Pearl was an infant human child.” (82) This is the totality of the doubtfulness expressed by the city where the pariah had been expelled. Pearl doesn’t have a father. But, what is more, Pearl doesn’t have a white father. She lacks the legitimacy of a Caucasian father and is therefore incomplete. She is therefore referred to by the narrator only as an “imperator” (83) and “demon offspring ” (88). Dimmesdale’s refusal to take on the public responsibilities he carries privately reinforces the importance of this mystery about paternity. Hester’s child is just as sinful as the paganpagans, until all the questions surrounding her lineage are resolved. It’s not ironic when the girl says, “I don’t have a Heavenly Father!” (87). This progression is illustrated by Chillingworth’s evolution. The village initially welcomes the old doctor, but he quickly loses popularity with the majority of Salem. The congregation members are compelled by the same intuitions as the third chapter which reflected the doctor’s connections to dishonored Hester. They begin to see the former parent in a decidedly negative context.

Summarising the matter, it became a widespread opinion that Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale was haunted by Satan or Satan’s emissary in the disguise of Roger Chillingworth (114).

When the author informs his audience that he has used the incantations of the “savage priests” to heal his patients, he stresses the fact that this was deliberate. The fictional portrayals of the relationship between indigenous and diabolical characters are accentuated to a point that requires the author to acknowledge the fact. The central conflict in the novel centers on the contradiction between reality and mass imagination. The Reverend is seen taking his place on the scaffold next to his family. An abbreviated reconciliation and open confession are more appropriate than the darkness of the veritable rainforest, the home to the redskin.

Pearl kissed him. It was broken. It was a great scene of grief in which the wild infant had a part. Her tears fell on her father’s cheek as they were her promise that she would not only grow up in human joy and sorrow but also in the world. Pearl’s mission of being a messenger in anguish for her mother was complete (233).

The truth behind the rumors and gossip that haunted Pearl for seven years is finally revealed. The child has a spotless lineage, and her innocence is restored. Her mother and she live normal lives that are unaffected by any misfortune or event.

But certain stigmas will never go away, so Hester is back in New England. Hester will always be associated with the wild, the Indian, and eventually she accepts these associations. Hester’s self-perception is heavily influenced by external opinion. Therefore, Hester gives in to the prejudices that will always link her with the carnal and bestial.

The environment’s power over an individual is often reflected in creative expression. The environment where they were born is a sign that artistic expressions will always bear their signatures. The Scarlet Letter acts as an imaginary past onto which Hawthorne transfers the miscegenation fears he experienced in the culture he lived in. The author’s masterworks illustrates the grave consequences of ethnic divides during the era of such perversely homophobic policies, like the Trail of Tears.

Works cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, is about a woman who is punished for adultery and must wear a scarlet “A” as a sign of her sin.


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