Outline conforming to the gothic genre conventions. In

OutlinePrescribed Question: How does the text conform to, or deviate from, the conventions of a particular genre, and for what purpose?Text: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel HawthorneThesis: In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne effectively conforms to the conventions of the gothic genre for the purpose of characterizing the Puritan society as oppressive, portraying the hypocrisy found within Puritan society and highlighting the consequences for not confessing sin.Point #1: Hawthorne effectively establishes a dark and gloomy atmosphere that adopts the conventions pertaining to the gothic genre by highlighting the oppressive nature of the Puritan society.·         Use of dark imagery, and prison as a symbol of sin.·         Juxtaposition of light and dark imagery  Point #2: Hawthorne’s use of Mistress Hibbins, adds a supernatural element to the novel to display the hypocritical nature of the society. Mistress Hibbins is characterized as a witch who is the sister of Governor Bellingham.·         Mistress Hibbens a witch shown in chapter 8.·         The metaphorical representation of the society through Mistress Hibbins and her brother governor Bellingham Point #3: Through the presence of negative emotions catalyzing actions, Hawthorne, effectively illustrates the consequences for not confessing guilt while conforming to the gothic genre conventions.  In the novel Dimmesdale had committed adultery as well, but fails to confess his sin in its entirety to the public until the end where he dies.

·         Self-harm Dimmesdale shown through his use of “bloody scourge” ·         Negative emotions because of the praise he is receiving. Leading him to have deep emotional pain.Jawad BhimaniMs. GoldenbergETS4UA-02January 15, 2018 Gothic Elements in The Scarlet LetterIn the study of literature, genres are used to classify various pieces of literature. Each genre has distinct features that differentiate it from others, helping the reader better understand the author’s message. Occasionally, authors write novels that are classified as part of one genre, but conform to the conventions of other genres for varying purposes. For instance, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is classified as a romance, however it has conventions pertaining to the gothic genre.

Such conventions include, the use of a gloomy atmosphere, the presence of supernatural occurrences and negative emotions being the main motivation for actions, all which The Scarlet Letter incorporates (The Gothic 2005). In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne effectively conforms to the conventions of the gothic genre for the purpose of characterizing the Puritan society as oppressive, portraying the hypocrisy found within the society and highlighting the consequences for not confessing sin.Hawthorne effectively establishes a gloomy atmosphere that adopts the conventions of the gothic genre to highlight the oppressive nature of the Puritan society.  Gloomy imagery is used to describe the area around the jail as having an “unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison” (Hawthorne 46). Hawthorne describes the prison as a “black flower” a symbol of sin.

 The use of “black” is associated with evil, creating a somber atmosphere. Moreover, in the following chapter, Hawthorne states “She bore in her arms a child, ……. who winked and turned aside its little face from the too vivid light of; because its existence, heretofore, had brought it acquainted only with the gray twilight of a dungeon, or other darksome apartment of the prison” (50).

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Here, the oppressive nature of the Puritan society is highlighted with the use of imagery. The prison is described as a “darksome apartment” showing the isolation associated with being imprisoned. Since Hester was imprisoned, it shows how her sin has caused her to become isolated from society because of the strict nature of the Puritan society. Furthermore, the presence of light imagery juxtaposed with dark imagery amplifies the oppressiveness of the Puritan society.

When Hester exited the prison her child instantly “winked and turned aside its little face” from the bright sunlight, which only occurs when a person has been in an extremely dark area for large amounts of time. The prison and its darkness reflects the Puritan society’s nature, it is shown that the society has a confining nature propounded by the imprisonment of Hester.  Therefore, through the use of imagery, Hawthorne creates a dark atmosphere to conform to the convention of to the gothic genre to help illustrate the iron-fisted nature of the Puritan society.Hawthorne’s use of Mistress Hibbins, adds a supernatural element to the novel displaying the hypocritical nature of the society. She is characterized as a witch who is the sister of Governor Bellingham.

This is illustrated when Hester refuses to go to the witch party with her and she replies, “We shall have thee there anon” said the witch-lady” (107). Witches were often executed or tried as the Puritans believed they were of ill-omen, yet she was not executed until her brother Governor Bellingham lost power in 1956. The supposedly pious governor is hypocritical as he lives with his devil-worshipper sister in direct contrast to how he attacks Hester’s character. The use of this contradiction provides a strong metaphorical representation of the Puritan society and how they only show their good side to the society represented by Governor Bellingham, while masking their sins, represented by Mistress Hibbins.

The society’s desire to portray themselves as pure individuals while condemning Hester for her sins even though they mask their own, highlights the hypocritical nature of the society. Ultimately, by the use of the supernatural character of Mistress Hibbins, Hawthorne is able to provide a metaphorical representation of the hypocrisy in the society while conforming to the conventions of the gothic genre. Moreover, through the presence of negative emotions that catalyze actions, Hawthorne effectively illustrates the consequences for not confessing sin while conforming to the gothic genre conventions.  In the novel, Dimmesdale had committed adultery as well, but fails to confess his sin in its entirety to the public until the end where he dies. His health worsened throughout the novel, and as a result of his sin he is able to relate to people and his popularity increases, overshadowing the other ministers. This causes him to experience a mental breakdown as he knew inside he was a fraud. He partially confesses his sin stating “I, whom you behold in these black garments of the priesthood … am utterly a pollution and a lie! (131)” Dimmesdale’s begins to hate himself in earnest as he did not confess “yet his followers praised him evermore stating that he is a “godly youth.

” He ends up torturing himself as shown through the quotation: “HisDimmesdale inward trouble drove him to practices……. Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders; …….” (132).

 The instrument he uses to harm himself is a “scourge” and Hawthorne describes it as being “bloody” from extensive use. A scourge is only used for religious penance, and as Dimmesdale believes he has sinned greatly he decides to punish himself severely as a consequence.   The deep emotional pain of not confessing his sin is shown through his self-abuse.

Ultimately, Hawthorne’s description of Dimmesdale’s deep moral conflict through the use of negative emotions conforms to the conventions of gothic genre.In conclusion, Hawthorne effectively uses the gothic convention such as a gloomy atmosphere, having characters whose actions are triggered by negative emotion, and the occurrence of supernatural elements. He characterizes the Puritan society as oppressive, portraying the hypocrisy found within Puritan society and highlighting the consequences for not confessing sin.

  Word Count: 1000   Work CitedHawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Bantam Classic. 1986″GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE.” The Gothic. 2005, academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/gothic/gothic.html 

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