Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 1:05:23 AM
In the tenth grade, my English teacher assigned my class The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Of course, everybody knows that the story is about an affair between a married woman and a reverend. However, what inspired me was not the novel’s plot, but the message enforced about the maliciousness of society.
Although the story takes place long ago, the society it portrays can still be compared to the society of today. Society molds the way people think and act. There is a set standard of what is acceptable and what is not. Hester Prynne, the adulterer, is forced to wear an ‘A’ on her chest as a reminder of her disgraceful conduct. She is not accepted by society because of one mistake she made. This is very important because it is still true in today’s society and is especially palpable for teenagers. Many teenagers and kids fear making mistakes and being judged by their peers. Others treat people as outcasts if they are different. Society is quick and cruel to make judgments about people that stand out. Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, unlike Hester, decides to keep his secret to himself. Nobody in the novel is aware that Dimmesdale impregnated Hester. This is because he fears the perdition of his reputation. Dimmesdale knows that society would immediately reject him if his secret got out. Thus, to appease society, he keeps his child and mistress a secret. He saves his reputation, but entirely ruins his mental and emotional stability. Dimmesdale feels much pressure from society and much guilt that cause him to break down. He physically and mentally abuses himself. This proves how destructive society is. Kids, teenagers, and even adults feel pressured by society to be a certain way or do a certain thing. Many teenagers today self-harm as a result of their inability to adapt to society. In grammar school, I always tried to fit in with the “popular” kids. I was too embarrassed to be myself. When I started high school, things were the same. I was still uncomfortable with being myself. This changed after I read The Scarlet Letter. Dimmesdale tries so hard to appease society that he forgets about his needs. He endures many psychological damages because of society’s idea of an individual. I suffered the same problem. Dimmesdale inspired me to stand up to society and embrace individuality. If he had ignored society, he could have lived happily with his family. I did not want to follow Dimmesdale’s pattern of poor decisions. I will not let the fear of ostracism stand in the way of opportunities. The Scarlet Letter inspired me to disregard the opinions of society and do what makes me happy.
For centuries, society has dominated the course of action many people take. People have lost their ability to think for themselves. Some have even become puppets of society. The Scarlet Letter demonstrates the harmful effects of social constraints. These harmful effects portrayed in the novel have inspired me to be bold and independent.