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The American ClassicsA Personal Essay$
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Denis Donoghue

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780300107814

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300107814.001.0001

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The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

(p.101) 3 The Scarlet Letter
The American Classics

Denis Donoghue

Yale University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter. It suggests that Hawthorne seemed to assume a force of evil so pervasive that it did not need to be embodied in anyone or in any action in particular when he referred to sin and discusses the narrator's insistence that love and nature are insuperable values and that morality has nothing to say to them. It also argues that the sexual character of the relation between Hester and Dimmesdale is so vaguely rendered that only the existence of Pearl as a consequence of it makes it credible.

Keywords:   The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, evil, sin, love, nature, morality, Hester, Dimmesdale, Pearl

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