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The Ethical Dilemma and Choice in Scarlet Letter

Author LiuShaSha
Tutor NieZhenZuo;LiuYuan
School Central China Normal University
Course Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords Scarlet Letter Ethical Dilemma Ethical Choice Hester Dimmesdale Nathaniel Hawthorne
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is an outstanding representative of American romantic writers in the Nineteenth Century. Since Hawthorne’s masterpiece Scarlet Letter was published, as the classic of classics of the mainstream of American literature, has been praised by most critics. Hawthorne specially pay attention to Hester and Dimmesdale’s ethical problems, and detailed descript their ethical states after they violated the ethics.This article attempts to analysis the hero and heroine’s ethical dilemmas and ethical choice from the Literature Ethics Criticism, through explore their ethical dilemmas, explore Hawthorne’s succession and transcendence of Puritan, and the explore the writer’s ethical thinking.The preface briefly describe the literature value of the Scarlet Letter first, then comb the research situation of domestic and foreign about Hawthorne, and finally briefly introduce this research method, the basic idea and main ideas.The first chapter is divided into three sections, mainly analysis the heroine’s ethical identity change after the adultery, discuss her moral test and ethical dilemmas in family bond and love. Although she had wanted to escape from the bondage of Puritan ethics, eventually she chose regression.The second chapter is divided into three sections, mainly analysis the hero Dimmesdale’s ethical problems. The ethical identity’s changes lead him to face the human nature and the divine, honesty and hide, etc. various kinds of ethical dilemmas. Finally how he selected the public confession, and got the God’s redeemed.The third chapter is divided into three sections, focuses on Hawthorne’s succession and transcendence of Puritan. Due to the influence of Puritan ethics, Hawthorne special pay attention to the person’s ethics situation in the Scarlet Letter. Although the contradiction between Puritan ethics will lead to ethical dilemmas, the person who lives in certain society must comply with the social ethical moral standard. Once someone wants to destroy social ethics, he will eventually lead to tragedy.Epilogue part, by discussing the three parts of the ethical issues, it is concluded that Nathaniel Hawthorne described the ethics is not to critical the Puritan ethics itself, not to solve concrete moral problems, but to investigate the ethic problems and ethic tests after breaking the Puritan ethical. Finally warning people the importance of obeying the social ethics norms.

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