Individuality In The Scarlet Letter

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The Independence of the United States declared in 1783 provoked for Americans the will to build a culture of innovation. For purposes of differentiating themselves from the Old Continent, experimental writers wanted to create a unique identity for their characters and society. The creation of that identity would then give birth to a triumphant individuality. Experimental literature allows the creation of new mythological stories and cultural aspects. In writing The Scarlet Letter in 1850, the American psychological novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne was willing to study the Puritan society. He was an observer of the moral life in America during the 19th century. His vision of the Puritan’s behaviors is almost ironic: « It may seem marvellous that,…show more content…
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne admits who she truly is even if it is by going through shame and pain. She does not let the society dictates her actions. First she refuses to leave her village wearing proudly the shining letter A on her chest: « that identity had Hester contrived so perfectly to represent the scarlet letter in her appearance. » Even if it is the symbol of her isolation, it allows Hester to develop her identity to the point that her individuality is triumphant. That is through difficult time that Hester is able to show her talent. Originally meaning adultery, the letter A diffracts into many different meanings like artist or American making. It is a metonymy of her alienation. Nathaniel Hawthorne sees himself in Hester. Despite his Puritan roots, Hawthorne chose to write this novel to look for his own identity and to analyze the society he lived in. But the quest for identity can sometimes lead to ambiguity. Wieland’s narrator, Clara, has troubles understanding who she is and what she really wants. At the end of the novel, when her beloved sister as she called it dies, Clara kisses her on the lips, which symbolizes the love triangle: « I lifted the still flexible hand, and kissed the lips, which were breathless. » (Ch.19) At this point, it is as if Clara had lost her double and so her identity. The same happen in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Arthur and his best friend Augustus share everything together. They are like the double of a coin. Their identity cannot be complete if they are not reunified: « He was going—my friend, my companion, from whom I had a right to expect so much—he was going—he would abandon me—he was gone! He would leave me to perish miserably, to expire in the most horrible and loathsome of dungeons » (Ch.5). This chiasm built with the repetition of the 3rd person singular echo Arthur’s desperate state. The exclamatory tone
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