Scarlett Letter Essay

July 17, 2015

Content 9

The Scarlet Letter is first read in high school, as a part of an American literature class. If students are enrolled in American history at the same time, then a study of the work becomes both as a literary piece and as commentary on Puritan life in the colony of Salem, Massachusetts – a rigid and unforgiving society that burned “witches” at the stake and certainly did not take lightly to any sin, especially the birth of a child out of wedlock. And, in high school students often wrote essays on The Scarlet Letter that perhaps addressed the plot, characters, the themes on a cursory level, and, of course the historical setting in which the story is placed.

At the college level, a study of The Scarlet Letter probe more deeply into the themes and symbolism, and as Scarlet letter essay assignments are given, students find themselves analyzing the work on much more complex levels. Possible Scarlet Letter essay topics might include the following:

  1. A sin in The Scarlet Letter essay might address a broader concept. Hester’s sin was adultery. Other sins are addressed in the Bible as well – intolerance, unforgiveness, hatred. And certainly members of the town were guilty of these.
  2. Another Scarlet Letter theme essay might address the comparison of the sin of Adam and Eve and expulsion from the Garden of Eden and that of Hester and Dimmesdale and her subsequent “expulsion” from the town
  3. Identity is another common thematic essay on The Scarlet Letter, as depicted by Hester
  4. Loyalty and Injustice are also potential The Scarlet Letter essays of a thematic nature.
  5. The themes of guilt and salvation also make great The Scarlet Letter essay topics, particularly as Hester’s ideas about these two things change over time.

Many other Scarlet Letter essays are assigned based upon symbolism in the work. And there is a huge amount of that, to be sure. Here are some potential topics for a Scarlet Letter symbolism essay:

  1. The name “Pearl” can be seen as a symbol of imperfection becoming something beautiful and perfect.
  2. The letter itself is a symbol of many things regarding Hester and society as a whole
  3. The surnames of the characters also seem to have other meanings.

Historical context is also a good start point for Scarlet Letter essay prompts. Consider the following:

  1. In what ways were the behaviors, values, and principles of the town’s people reflective of actual Puritan society of the 17th century?
  2. How is Hawthorne, a citizen of the same town in the 19th century, seen as a major critic of the Puritan mindset through his novel?
  3. How were Hester’s thoughts about sin and salvation contrary to the traditional Puritan view of the time?

Constructing the Essay

It is important to remember that an essay on The Scarlet Letter must not be a mere book report or review. It is assumed that the reader knows the plot, the characters and the setting. Your job is to take some facet of the work, develop a thesis, and then support that thesis within the body paragraphs. To do this, you, of course, will have to read the work, perhaps a couple of times, research what others have to say about it, and the develop your own analytical ideas. And yes, this takes time and great writing skill.

If time is a factor or if you simply do not have a great deal of interest in the novel, it may be wiser to contact Smart Custom Essay and get a writer with a degree in American literature, to produce an original, well-written piece, while you focus on other activities and obligations.