At the risk of sounding ridiculously naive, I now turn to the transcendental context for Hawthorne’s novel, since I read it as a part of Jillian’s Transcendental Month. As I read The Scarlet Letter, I struggled to place the novel within the transcendental framework, and I’ve come to the conclusion that The Scarlet Letter is rather anti-transcendental.
As Hawthorne reveals in his novel, people are often consumed with guilt, sin, or desire for revenge. I talked yesterday about the different ways that Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, and Hester Prynne succumbed to the pressure to conform to society. And although Hester later tried to abandon the moral structures of Puritan society, her prideful ways of doing so were not positive.
Jillian commented the other day that she didn’t see it as anti-transcendental, because Hester celebrated her individuality. I disagree with that, but I struggle to explain myself. Maybe I am wrong. This post is just my ramblings trying to put the novel in context with the transcendentalists. Jillian posted on the essay “The Transcendentalist” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and that prompted me to read the essay myself to try to better explain myself. Although I can’t guarantee that this post will explain anything, I’m certainly trying.