The Scarlet Letter Theme of Isolation
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Puritan society in The Scarlet Letter seems just as judgmental and cruel as any school cafeteria. Make one tiny misstep—spill your food; show up to school wearing the wrong kind of backpack—and you're an outcast, with the name-calling and ostracization to prove it. Pretty soon, you're hiding in the bathroom during the whole period just to avoid having to eat alone—like Hester Prynne, hiding out in a cottage on the outskirts of town; or Dimmesdale, respected by his community but without a single close friend. Ahem. Excuse us, we're having horrible flashbacks to middle school.
Questions About Isolation
- What's the difference between Hester's isolation and Dimmesdale's? How does isolation affect them differently?
- How does Hester's isolation affect her? How about Pearl?
- How do the landscape and setting contribute to a feeling of isolation in this novel? What is Massachusetts Bay Colony like? It is isolated?
Chew on This
Isolation empowers Hester Prynne.
Hester loses a sense of her own humanity as a result of being cut off from society.