The significance of the symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne`s The Scarlet Letter seen from historical presceptives - USD Repository

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SYMBOLS

IN NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE’S

THE SCARLET LETTER

SEEN FROM HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS

Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra

in English Letters

By

CICILIA FAIDA EKA ROSITA SARI

Student Number: 074214045

ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMME DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LETTERS

FACULTY OF LETTERS SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SYMBOLS

IN NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE’S

THE SCARLET LETTER

SEEN FROM HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS

Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra

in English Letters

By

CICILIA FAIDA EKA ROSITA SARI

Student Number: 074214045

ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMME DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LETTERS

FACULTY OF LETTERS SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY

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“Do the Best and Let God Do the Rest”

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This Undergraduate Thesis is dedicated to

My Great Jesus Christ,

My beloved mother,

My father,

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LEMBAR PERNYATAAN PERSETUJUAN

PUBLIKASI KARYA ILMIAH UNTUK KEPENTINGAN AKADEMIS

Yang bertanda tangan di bawah ini, saya mahasiswa Universitas Sanata Dharma

Nama : Cicilia Faida Eka Rosita Sari

NomorMahasiswa : 07 4214 045

Demi pengembangan ilmu pengetahuan, saya memberikan kepada perpustakaan

Universitas Sanata Dharma karya ilmiah saya yang berjudul

The Significance of the Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

Seen from Historical Perspectives

Beserta perangkat yang diperlukan (bila ada). Dengan demikian saya memberikan

kepada perpustakaan Universitas Sanata Dharma hak untuk menyimpan,

mengalihkan dalam bentuk media lain, mengelolanya dalam bentuk pangkalan

data mendistribusikan secara terbatas dan mempublikasikannya di internet atau

media lain untuk kepentingan akademis tanpa perlu meminta ijin dari saya

maupun memberikan royalty kepada saya selama tetap mencantumkan nama saya

sebagai penulis.

Demikian pernyataan ini yang saya buat dengan sebenarnya.

Dibuat di Yogyakarta

Pada tanggal : 26 Agustus 2011

Yang menyatakan.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Jesus Christ for His love and blessing so that I could

finish this undergraduate thesis. He stays with me and never leaves me alone. He

raises me up when I want to give up writing this undergraduate thesis.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, Drs. Hirmawan

Wijanarka, M.Hum. and my co- advisor, Dewi Widyastuti, S.Pd., M.Hum. for

their patience, for their guidance and suggestion during the process of writing this

undergraduate thesis. My gratitude also goes to all the members of lecturing and

secretariat staff of the English Letters Department. They have helped me to solve

my problems during lecturing.

I thank my parents for everything they have given to me. Especially for

my mom, thank her so much for her understanding, her prayer, and her support.

Also to my only sister, Yohanna Fransisca Meilyna Dwi Cahyani, I realize that I

cannot be a good older sister to her, but she has to know that I love her so much.

I would also like to thank my best friends, Florentina Yuliana Rafles,

Karina Prisdiani, Mustika Sari, Christa Nastasya, Maria Rosetha Simbolon, and

also Grace Melia Kristanto for their support. I am lucky to have some funny and

good friends like them. Friendship is everything, finally “I did it, girls!” The last

but not the least, I thank my dear boyfriend, Ardhy Sigit Permana Putra for his

patience, understanding, support, and prayer.

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LEMBAR PERNYATAAN PERSETUJUAN PUBLIKASI ... vi

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ABSTRACT

CICILIA FAIDA EKA ROSITA SARI. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SYMBOLS IN NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE’S THE SCARLET LETTER

SEEN FROM HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES. Yogyakarta: Department of English Letters, Faculty of Letters, Sanata Dharma University, 2011.

The Scarlet Letter is a novel about Hester Prynne, a married woman who commits adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale. The setting takes place in the 17th century puritan society. Puritan society is the society that is based on Christian principles, and those principles are based on the Bible. Adultery is considered as a sin and the people who commit adultery get effects of their act. Literature is one of the media for the study. There are some components in a literary work that can be used as the media for studying. One of them is symbol. The Scarlet Letter is chosen as the object of this study because it contains some symbols.

The aim of this research is to find out the significance of the symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter seen from historical perspectives. There are two problems that must be answered in this study, the problems are: (1) what are the symbols found in The Scarlet Letter andwhy can they be called symbol?, (2) What is the significance of those symbols seen from historical perspectives?

Sociocultural-historical approach is applied in this study. Sociocultural- historical approach is an approach on the social environment in which a work of literature was created. This study takes library research. Library research is a research which uses only written sources like articles, reviews and books, both printed and electronic. The primary source of this study is the novel itself, while many sources like articles, reviews, and other books are acceptable.

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ABSTRAK

CICILIA FAIDA EKA ROSITA SARI. THE SIGNIFICANCES OF THE SYMBOLS IN NATANIEL HAWTHORNE’S THE SCARLET LETTER

SEEN FROM HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. Yogyakarta: Program Study Sastra Inggris, Fakultas Sastra, Universitas Sanata Dharma, 2011.

The Scarlet Letter adalah sebuah novel tentang Hester Prynne, seorang wanita yang telah menikah yang berselingkuh dengan Arthur Dimmesdale. Cerita ini berlatar belakang di jaman kaum Puritans pada abad ke- 17. Kaum Puritans adalah kaum yang menganut prinsip Kristen protestan, dan prinsip tersebut berdasar pada Alkitab. Perselingkuhan dianggap sebagai dosa and orang yang berselingkuh mendapat dampak dari apa yang dia lakukan. Karya Sastra adalah salah satu media untuk pembelajaran. Ada beberapa komponen dalam karya sastra yang dapat digunakan sebagai media pembelajaran. Salah satunya adalah simbol.

The Scarlet Letter dipilih sebagai sasaran penelitian karena novel ini memiliki beberapa simbol.

Tujuan penelitian ini adalah untuk mencari makna simbol- simbol di novel

The Scarlet Letter yang dilihat dari pandangan sejarah. Ada dua rumusan masalah yang harus dijawab dalam penelitian ini. Kedua rumusan masalah itu adalah: (1) simbol apa saja yang terdapat dalam The Scarlet Letter dan mengapa mereka dapat disebut simbol?, (2) Apa makna dari simbol- simbol tersebut dilihat dari pandangan sejarah?

Pendekatan sosial-budaya sejarah diterapkan dalam penelitian ini. Pendekatan sosial-budaya sejarah adalah pendekatan dilihat dari sejarah dalam lingkungan sosial dimana karya sastra tersebut dibuat. Penelitian ini adalah sebuah studi pustaka. Studi pustaka adalah penelitian yang hanya menggunakan sumber- sumber tertulis seperti artikel, ulasan, dan buku baik yang tercetak dan yang elektronik. Sumber utama penelitian ini adalah novel tersebut, sementara banyak sumber seperti artikel, ulasan, dan buku lain yang juga digunakan.

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1 CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

A. Background of the Study

Literature cannot be separated from the life of human beings. Generally,

literature describes human life. Literary works usually tell about people’s

experiences or events in life. Writers sometimes write about politics, economics,

social life and culture that happen in this era. Thus literature and reality actually

are related.

There are many reasons why the researcher chooses a novel for the study.

In her opinion, she can see what the author wants to say to the readers by reading

a novel. According to Abrams, novel is a great variety of writings that has

common only the attribute of being extended works of fiction written in prose. As

an extended narrative, the novel is distinguished from the short story and from the

work of middle length called the novelette; its magnitude permits a greater variety

of characters, greater complication of plot, more exploration of character and

motives than do shorter and more concentrated modes (1993: 130).

In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne tells about the history of human in the

17th century Puritans as discussed by Frederick Newberry in his review entitled

“Tradition and Disinheritance in The Scarlet Letter”:

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Puritan society is the society which is based on the Protestant principle,

and that principle is based on the Bible. Law of God is the rule of nation. If the

nation keeps the law of God, it will be blessed. If it breaks the God’s law, it will

be punished. Morality is based on the Bible law, and that is the key to success. It

can be proved by the quotation from Foeister’s book entitled American Poetry and

Prose:

We are to conceive of the bible as a rule by which to measure ourselves and our essential knowledge and proper action, a rule superior to any that human experience might devise (1960: 7).

The researcher is interested in the way the author tells about the sin that is

made by Dimmesdale, a priest who has affair with Hester Prynne, a married

woman. Everyone all over the world surely has ever made mistakes that are not

proper with their conscience during their lives. They have ever made mistakes,

whether they are men or women, important or just ordinary people, even religious

people. No one is sinless.

The other reason why the researcher chooses this novelto be analyzed is

because The Scarlet Letter becomes one of the most successful novels written by

Nathaniel Hawthorne. There are also many people who have discussed this novel

in their thesis so that the researcher can learn and find some interesting views

about this novel.

There are some components in a literary work that can be used as the

media for studying. One of them is symbol. According to Abrams, a symbol is

anything which signifies something, in this sense all words are symbols. However,

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event which in its turn signifies something, or has a range of reference, beyond

itself (1993: 93). Stanton in Introduction to Fiction also states that symbol may be

anything from an egg to the story’s setting, a single object, a physical type of

object, a physical substance, a repeated type of object, a shape, a gesture, a sound,

a fragrance and so forth. It means that symbol can be anything inside the literary

work (1965: 31).

Symbol is chosen as the object of this study because there is no story as

filled with the symbols as The Scarlet Letter. This study will analyze the symbols

found in The Scarlet Letter, for example the scarlet letter itself, the forest, and the

ship. Those symbols are important because the author mentions them several

times. After finding the symbols in The Scarlet Letter, the researcher will find the

significance of those symbols which are seen from historical perspectives.

B. Problem Formulation

The researcher formulates two problems that lead her thesis into a further

explanation of the analysis:

1. What are the symbols found in The Scarlet Letter and why can they be called

symbol?

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C. Objectives of the Study

This study will focus on finding the significance of the symbols seen from

historical perspectives. The aim of this study is to answer the questions stated in

problem formulation. First, this study will focus on finding the symbols and also

the reasons why they can be called symbol. This description will answer the first

question. After finding the symbols in this novel, the next objective of this study

is to identify the significance of those symbols. The researcher will identify the

significance of those symbols which is seen from historical perspectives.

D. Definition of Terms

There are three things that need to be clarified in this study. They are

symbol, significance, and historical perspective.

1. Symbol

In the book A Glossary of Literary Terms Sixth Edition, Abrams defines

symbol as anything which refers to something else that is significant. In this case

‘anything’ can be all words. He says that symbol is applied to word or phrase that

signifies an object or event which has a variety of reference, beyond itself.

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2. Significance

Based on Longman: Dictionary of English Language and Culture, the

meaning of the word ‘significance’ is the quality of being significant; importance,

meaning or value (Della Summers ed, 1992:1230). While according to The New

Oxford American Dictionary 2nd Edition, the significance means the quality of being worthy of attention, importance (Erin McKean ed, 2005: 1579). From those

two quotations, the researcher can conclude that the word ‘significance’ means the

quality of being worthy of importance, attention, meaning or value.

3. Historical Perspective

In Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus, perspective means point of

view, viewpoint, standpoint, prospect, vantage point, position, angle (Erin

McKean ed, 2003: 1114). Then, in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of English

Language, historical means based on or suggested by people or event in the past

(Simon ed, 1989: 863). From the above explanation, the researcher concludes that

historical perspective means viewpoint that is based on the people or event in the

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6 CHAPTER II

THEORETICAL REVIEW

A. Review of Related Studies

In this section, the writer will refer to some criticisms of Nathaniel

Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The followings are some critical reviews on the

symbols from many different sources.

Carol Joy Fider in his review entitled “Moral and Ethical Issues in The

Scarlet Letter” states that Hawthorne is not overly concerned with the sin that has

been committed, but he is more concerned with the results of the sin, with its

effect on the persons involved. However, in the Christian view, the sin as well as

its effects is to be considered. God regards man's motives. He who sees and

understands the intents of the heart knows all about the spring from which man's

actions flow. Motives are important to Him. Furthermore, the Bible condemns sin

in all its forms (http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_24/24cc_117-135.htm, accessed in

21 July 2011).

There are many critical viewpoints of The Scarlet Letter as discussed by

Hyatt Howe Waggoner’s review entitled “Three orders: Natural, Moral, and

Symbolic” in the book The Scarlet Letter: An Authoritative Text Essays in

Criticism and Scholarship Third Edition. Waggoner states that the closing words

of the chapter make the metaphorical use of color explicit. He says that the author

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moral blossom, that may be found along the track or relieve the darkening close of

a tale of human frailty and sorrow (1988:315).

Bailey Shoemaker Richards (2009) in his review entitled “The Importance

of Religion in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Book” states that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s

book The Scarlet Letter is full of symbols about society as well as symbolic

religion. Through the use of numerous symbols, Hawthorne is able to

communicate his feeling on the way religion influences decision and society for

the Puritans. By using symbols in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne is able to

criticize religion and its role within society in a way that is subtle yet very

effective

(http://www.suite101.com/content/religious-symbolism-in-the-scarlet-letter-a141006

,

27 September 2010

).

Review by Henry F. Chorley entitled “Severity, Purity, and Sympathy”

from the book The Scarlet Letter: An Authoritative Text Essays in Criticism and

Scholarship Third Edition states:

The Scarlet Letter is badge of Hester Prynne’s shame, we ought to add that we recollect no tale dealing with crime so sad and revenge so subtly diabolical, that is at the same time so clear of fever and of prurient excitement. The misery of woman is as present in every page as the heading which in the title of the romance symbolizes her punishment (1988: 184).

In his review, Chorley states that the scarlet letter is badge of Hester

Prynne’s shame because she does a crime. He says that the scarlet letter is the

symbol of her punishment presented in every page on the story. Then it becomes

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Daniel G Hoffman’s review entitled “Hester Double Providence: The

Scarlet Letter and the Green” also discusses about the letter ‘A’ on Hester’s

breast. This review is taken from the same book with Henry F. Chorley’s review:

The Scarlet Letter they condemned her to wear was a self evident judgment: A for Adultery. Giving up her individuality, she would become a general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman’s frailty and sinful passion (1988: 343).

After reading some reviews from the previous studies above, the

researcher can get a deeper understanding about The Scarlet Letter. The

researcher agrees with all reviews from the other researchers above. Those can be

used to strengthen this study because the researcher wants to discover the symbols

more deep so that the researcher comes into the further understanding about

symbols. In other words, this study can develop the previous studies.

In this study, the researcher is going to find out the symbols and why they

can be called symbols. The descriptions will give better understanding about the

symbols then just mention it directly what symbols in found in The Scarlet Letter

is, without knowing why those objects can be called symbols. In this study, the

researcher does not only use the real meaning of certain object, but also the

meaning based on the context of the story. This study differs from the previous

studies since the researcher compares it with the sociocultural-historical

background of the 17th century Puritans. The meanings of those symbols have the

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B. Review of Related Theories

1. Theory of Symbol

In order to be able to go deeper to the analysis of this novel, the researcher

needs to have strong foundation to the discussion. The researcher needs some

theories that will be the basic guidance for this study. There are some theories of

symbol that will be discussed and those can be used to answer the problems

formulated in the problem formulation.

In the book A Glossary of Literary Terms Sixth Edition, Abrams states that

symbol is anything which signifies something else, in this sense all words are

symbols. In discussing literature, the term symbols is applied to a word or phrase

that signifies an object or event which in its turn signifies something, or has a

range of reference, beyond itself (1993: 93). While, in A Handbook to Literature

by C. Hugh Holman and William Harmon, a symbol is something that is itself and

yet stands for or suggests or means something else, a symbol is like an image that

evokes an objective reality and has a meaning that suggests another level of

meaning (2009: 539-540). Then, based on Stanton in An Introduction to Fiction, a

symbol is anything from an egg to the story’s setting, a single object, a physical

type of object, a physical substance, a repeated type of object, a shape, a gesture, a

sound, a fragrance and so forth. They may represent a face of a human

personality, the indifference of nature to man’s suffering, human responsibility,

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Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz in their book entitled Literature:

Reading and Writing the Human Experience 7th Edition states that there are two kinds of symbols. They are public symbol and contextual symbol.

Public symbols are those objects or events that history has invested with rich meanings and associations. Contextual symbols are objects or events that are symbolic by virtue of the poet handling of them in a particular work- that is, by virtue of the context (1998: 12).

Public symbols are those objects or events that have invested with rich

meanings and associations. The example of public symbols is rose. Rose has long

been a symbol of love. In Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, the husband

communicates his love by proffering this public symbol: “He was holding out

flowers- rose, red and white roses. But he could not bring himself to say love her

in so many words.” Similarly, a poem about the cross would probably be about

Christianity. In contrast, contextual symbols are object or events that are symbolic

by virtue of poet’s handling them in a particular term. Contextual symbols are

created by the author, there is no exact meaning behind the contextual symbols.

The meaning behind the contextual symbols depends on the context of the story

that is created by the author. In other words, it depends on the context that is made

by the author.

There are some ways to emphasize the symbol. In Literature for

Composition Essays, Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Sylvan Barnet says that the

author emphasizes the symbol by doing some ways like by describing them in

some length, by introducing them at times when they might not seem necessary,

and by calling attention to them repeatedly (2005: 231). The problem is how to

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Introduction to Fiction states that the author gives the clues to the reader to find

the symbol. The clue is by making it in conspicuous detail. It may be conspicuous

because it repeats or resembles certain other details. Details may also be

conspicuous because they contrast with one another. The ways to make something

conspicuous are by describing it more fully than its factual importance deserves,

by making it unusual for no apparent reason, by mentioning it in the title, or by

some other means (1965: 32).

Symbol in fiction has three usual effects depending upon how it is used. In

An Introduction to Fiction, Stanton states that a symbol that appears during an

important moment of the story underlines the significant of the moment. Second, a

symbol is repeated several times to remind us. Third, a symbol that recurs in

varying context helps to define or clarify the theme (1965: 31-32). Moreover,

Robert Stanton also states that there are three ways of interpreting symbols. They

are noting the symbol’s connotations, comparing it to its context, comparing its

contexts to one another (1965: 32- 33).

C. Review on the Puritans and Puritanism

Based on Marsden’s book Religion and American Culture, early in the

17th century some Puritan groups separated from the Church of England. Among

these were the Pilgrims, who in 1620 founded Plymouth Colony. They left their

homeland to find an alternative land in order to built new society which was based

on Puritan principles. The society was the Massachusetts Bay Colony known as a

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rule. Puritan rule is fundamental protestant principle, that their bible should be

their supreme guide (1990: 16).

In the 17th century Puritans that is based on the Christian Principle,

adultery is considered as sin because it breaks the law of God. She or he who

commits adultery gets punishment from the Puritans. People who commit it can

be sent to die or punished publicly with the intention of causing shame and

humiliation because it breaks the moral and religious marriage contract. The

following quotation proves the statement.

In Puritan society, adultery was considered the ultimate sin, a moral violation of God's will. Adultery was a capital offense, and people who committed it could be put to death. Adultery was punished publicly, with the intention of inflicting shame and humiliation, because it was a clear breaking of the moral and religious marriage contract between husband and wife. By threatening the bonds of marriage, the Puritans also viewed adultery as a threat to societal order (Johnson, accessed in 7 September 2011).

In the America Poetry and Prose (1960), there was a chapter entitled “The

Puritan Age”. It is about a man and woman who commit adultery in the 1644.

Although they had felt guilty, they were executed death penalty because adultery

was considered as a sin and both of them were dead very penitently. Based on

B.A.K.E.R Encyclopedia of the Bible Volume 1 (1989: 495), Scarlet was used as

the figure of sin. The following quotation becomes the proof that adultery was

considered as a sin and she or he who committed adultery was sent to death.

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was death by God’s law. They were both executed, they both died very penitently (1960: 24).

The researcher found another source about the crime of adultery. It told

the story of Mary Latham an eighteen year old girl who was condemned the

penalty of death. John Winthrop wrote the plight of Mary Latham in his diaries.

The following quotation became the proof.

This is the story of Mary Latham an eighteen-year-old girl who strayed from the moral path of her Puritan community and paid for her transgression with her life. This was the start of Mary's misfortunes, for the Massachusetts colony had that very year constructed its first code of laws and among these was the penalty of death for the crime of adultery. John Winthrop was the first Governor of Massachusetts Colony. He describes the plight of Mary Latham in his diaries: "At this court of assistants one James Britton, a man ill affected both to our church discipline and civil government, and one Mary Latham, a proper young woman about 18 years of age, whose father was a godly man and had brought her up well, were condemned to die for adultery” (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/adultery.htm, accessed in 9 September 2011).

Historically, the forest signified frightening place. It became frightening

because the Puritans considered it as a kind of hell. It was a kind of hell because

they regarded the forest as a place which was haunted by the devil. It also became

a frightening place because the forest was a place where the Indians lived. The

Puritans considered the Indian to be devil-worshippers, so it was appropriate to

the Puritans’ opinion which regarded the forest as a place which was haunted by

the devil. In addition, the Puritans believed that witches held their rites in the

forest. It was also suggested by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter. It can

be proved by the following quotation.

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believed, as Hawthorne's story suggests, that witches held their rites in the forest (Heyrman, accessed in 8 September 2011).

There was another quotation saying the same thing about the forest. It was

said that no Puritans have the positive ideas about the forest because the Indians

lived there. The Puritans assumed that the Indians were devil worshippers.

Witches who were involved in the devil also hold their ritual there. So, the

Puritans saw the forest as a sort of hell and the devil would be there.

Puritans had all sorts of ideas about the forest...none of them putting it in a positive light. The Indians lived in the woods, which the Puritans assumed were devil worshipers. Witches also held their covens in the woods, who were involved with the devil as well. Therefore, as we see in evidence such as Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown," (which may be the source of your question) the Puritans saw the forest as a sort of "hell," and the devil would (of course) be there (Karma, accessed in 9 September 2011).

The ship had a close connection with the people in the 17th century

Puritans. Based on The Oxford Dictionary of the American People, in 1620,

Plymouth colony was founded by the Mayflower pilgrim, who brought Puritanism

in one of its purest forms to America (1965: 61).

Mayflower was the name of a ship. It brought Puritans to leave their

homes and begin to live in the America. Whatever motive they might choose to

emphasize, most of them thought of themselves as refugees from tyranny and

persecution. Based on A Short History of American Life, the seventeenth century

was a period of political and religious ferment. On the British Throne from 1630

to 1688 sat four Stuart Kings, each in his way attempting to continue the strong

monarchial authority that is exercised by the Tudors during the previous century.

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absolutist policies of the Crown opposed to the strength of country gentlemen and

city merchants. Particularly, it was heated because of the controversy over

religion. James I and Charles I took their side on the Elizabethan settlement. They

supported the Church of England and enforced intermittently the laws which

required religious conformity. By this policy they opposed the wishes of the

Catholics, who wanted each Christian congregation to enjoy independence. The

influence of this situation upon the settlement of America was great. There were

much more numerous and influential Puritans, who believed in an establishing

Church but wanted radical changes in church government and practice. The

Mayflower brought many Puritans who left England because they insisted on

worshipping God in their bare and solemn meetinghouse instead of attending the

service of the Church of England (1952: 3). So, the ship was used by the Puritans

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D. Theoretical Framework

Some reviews from the related studies will be used to strengthen this

study. Those can support the data in developing previous studies. This study can

develop the previous studies since this study also talks about symbol.

Theory of symbol is needed to answer problem number one. All the

theories of symbol from many writers are beneficial in this thesis. Theories of the

symbol by Abrams, Stanton, Hugh Holman and William Harmon lead the

researcher to understand about symbol. Those theories give the definition of

symbol so that it can help the researcher to find many symbols in the novel.

Theories of symbol by Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz, Sylvan Barnet, and

Stanton give some factors that must be considered to find out more about the

symbol. It is important to know about the relation between the social historical

backgrounds and the literature since the idea of this study has the relation with

people and social environment at that time. Here, theory on the historical

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17 CHAPTER III

METHODOLOGY

A. Object of the Study

The Scarlet Letter was a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1849.

This research was based on the fourth printing on May 1961 by A Signet Classics.

The novel contained 255 pages and is divided into 24 chapters.

The Scarlet Letter was considered Nathaniel Hawthorne's most famous

novel and the first essentially American novel in style, theme, and language. It

also became popular after the publication because it had the good fortune of

becoming one of America's first mass-published books. Before The Scarlet Letter,

books in America usually were handmade, sold one by one in small numbers. But

Hawthorne's novel was copied from a machine press, and its first run of 2,500

copies sold out immediately.

The Scarlet Letter had been adapted many times on film, on television, and

on the stage. The first film was a 1917 black and white silent film, while the most

recent film version opened in 1995 starring Demi Moore and Gary Oldman. That

movie had the same title with the novel “The Scarlet Letter”. It was directed by

Roland Joffé and released first in the USA on October 13th, 1995. Then it was

become wider in many countries for example USA, UK, South Korea, Spain,

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B. Approach of the Study

This study applies sociocultural-historical approach. Socio cultural

historical approach by Mary Rohrberger and Samuel Woods in Reading and

Writing about Literature can be defined as follows:

The sociocultural-historical approach insists that the only way to locate the real work is in reference to the civilization that produced it. They define civilization as the attitudes and actions of a specific group of people and point out that literature takes these attitudes and action as its subject matter (1971: 231).

From that quotation, the writer concludes that sociocultural-historical

Approach is an approach on the social environment in which a work of literature

was created. It is because literature represents ideas that are significant to the

culture that produce it.

Sociocultural-historical approach is used to answer the problems in this

study since the problems here have a connection with people and their ideas of a

sin. The writer has to know about the history, the attitudes, social condition, and

also problem of the civilization in which the story takes where the events in the

novel happen. The writer has to understand about extrinsic elements of the work

such as the History of American Society and the religion at that time especially

about the Puritans in the 17th century which exist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The

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C. Method of the Study

In order to be able to discover the element of the symbols, the writer takes

library research to gather the data. Sociocultural-historical approach is applied to

answer the problem since the main focus of the analysis has connection to the

social environment and history of people and their ideas. This study takes library

research because the writer only uses written sources like articles, reviews and

books, both printed and electronic. The primary data of this study is the novel

itself, while many sources like articles, reviews, and other books are also needed

as the additional data to support the study.

There were some steps used to work on this analysis. The first step was to

choose a literary work that was going to be analyzed. In this step, the writer chose

a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne entitled The Scarlet Letter. There were

many reasons why the writer chose The Scarlet Letter. The Scarlet Letter was one

of the most successful novels written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. There were also

many people who had discussed this novel in their studies so that the researcher

can learn and find some interesting view about this novel. The second step was

reading the novel for several times in order to understand the content of the novel

deeply. The researcher found that there were some symbols in The Scarlet Letter.

Then,it also contains interesting story, themes, moral values, message, etc.

The third step was formulating the problems. Since the researcher was

interested in the symbols, she focused on finding some symbols in the novel. The

researcher collected sources from others books, reviews, analysis, also social and

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symbols. By combining all of the materials and the fact, the writer found the topic

to study. The writer also looked for the references and also the theories related to

the theory in literature.

The fourth step was doing the analysis. The researcher analyzed symbols

found in The Scarlet Letter and why they can be called symbol. Then, the

researcher analyzed about the significance of those symbols that was seen from

historical perspectives. After the researcher knew about the significance of those

symbols, the last step was making a conclusion. The writer concluded the result of

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21 CHAPTER IV

ANALYSIS

This chapter is divided into two parts. The first part explains the symbols

found in The Scarlet Letter and why they can be called symbol. The second part

tells about the significance of those symbols.

Puritans is the major thing discussed in this novel. During the whole

period of Puritanism, it has direct impact on both religious thought and cultural

patterns in Boston, Massachusetts. The rule of Puritan society is very strict and it

makes people live under pressure. The story of The Scarlet Letter focuses on the

sin made by Hester Prynne, a married woman, and Arthur Dimmesdale because

they commit adultery. As a woman who commits adultery and is considered as a

criminal, Hester Prynne feels that she lives in hell. She gets a lot of sufferings and

punishments there.

Hester Prynne does not reveal the name of her partner in committing

adultery. She does not want Arthur Dimmesdale, her partner, a minister who is

respected by the Puritans, loses his fame. Besides, actually Dimmesdale wants to

reveal the truth that he is the father of Hester Prynne’s child. He wants to reveal

the truth because he suffers from covering this secret. Although, he does not get

any punishment from the Puritans like what Hester gets, he feels devoid, despair,

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A. The Symbols in The Scarlet Letter and Why They can be Called Symbol.

This part contains some symbols found in The Scarlet Letter and why they

can be called symbol. It discusses the symbols and the reasons why they can be

called symbol.

1. The Scarlet Letter “A”

Based on Stanton’s theory an object can be called a symbol because it is

repeated several times (1965: 32). The scarlet letter is a suitable object to that

theory because it is also repeated several times. The next quotation proves it.

A blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine! “Come along, madam Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market!” (1961: 62).

Then, the author repeats the word “the scarlet letter” in the second

quotation. “It was whispered, by those who peered after her, that the scarlet letter

threw a lurid gleam along the dark passage way of the interior” (1961: 75). Once

again, the author repeats it on page 78. “As he spoke, he laid his long forefinger

on the scarlet letter, which forthwith seemed to scorch into Hester’s breast, as if it

had been red- hot” (1961: 78).

Those three quotations show that the scarlet letter is repeated several

times. When the object repeats several times, the author may call the reader’s

attention to the object. The purpose is to remind the reader to the scarlet letter and

to emphasize that the scarlet letter is important in this novel. It has other meaning

besides the basic meaning. It must symbolize something else.

The scarlet letter also becomes a symbol because the author describes it in

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statement. “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth surrounded with an

elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter

“A” (1961: 60). Then, the author also describes it in the following quotation:

They averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth tinged in an earthly dyepot, but was red hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime (1961: 91).

From that quotation, the researcher knows that the author wants to

emphasize the detail description of the scarlet letter. The author describes its

color, its shape, and its appearance in detail. On page 61 and page 66, the author

once again describes the scarlet letter in detail and in some length. The next two

quotations show the other descriptions of the scarlet letter.

But the point which drew all eyes and, as it were, transfigured the wearer- so that both men and women, who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time- was that Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself (1961: 61).

Lastly, in lieu of these shifting scenes, come back the rude market place of the Puritan settlement, with all the townspeople assembled and levelling their stern regards at Hester Prynne- yes, at herself- who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, and infant on her arm, the letter “A” in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom (1961: 66).

Then, based on Stanton’s theory of symbol in An Introduction to Fiction

(1965: 32), the author gives the clue to the reader to find the symbol. The clue to

make something symbolic is by making it in a conspicuous detail. One way to

make something conspicuous is by mentioning it in the title. In this novel, the

author not only mentions the word “the scarlet letter” in the story but also makes

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scarlet letter can be called symbol. Moreover, in the story Hawthorne makes it

clear that it is a symbol. The next quotation can prove this statement.

They averred that the symbol was not mere scarlet cloth tinged in an earthly dyepot, but was red hot with infernal fire, and could be seen glowing all alight whenever Hester Prynne walked abroad in the nighttime (1961: 91).

When the strangers looked curiously at the scarlet letter-and none ever failed to do so-they branded it afresh into Hester’s soul; so that, oftentimes, she could scarcely refrain, yet always did refrain, from covering the symbol with her hand (1961:89).

2. Forest

Based on Barnet’s theory of symbols (2005: 231), an author emphasizes

the symbol by doing some ways like by describing them in detail and in some

length. The forest is also described in detail and in some length, so it can be one

of the symbols because it is suitable with Barnet’s theory of symbol. The

following quotation becomes the proof of this statement.

It straggled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest. This hemmed it in so narrowly, and stood so black and dense on either side, and disclosed such imperfect glimpses of the sky above, that, to Hester mind, it imaged not amiss the moral wilderness in which she had so long been wandering (1961: 175).

The above quotation describes forest as place which is full of mystery. The

forest separates the road with very high, black and dense trees until the sky above

is rarely seen. Based on Stanton’s theory, the clue to make something symbolic is

by making it in a conspicuous detail. There are some ways to make something

conspicuous, one of them is by making it unusual for no apparent reasons. In the

novel, Hawthorne describes the story which takes place in the forest in 3 chapters.

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author puts the same setting in three chapters because he wants to make the forest

conspicuous. If the author does not want to make the forest conspicuous, he will

not use the forest as the setting in three chapters. It shows that forest is important

in the novel.

Based on Stanton’s theory, an object can be called a symbol when it is

repeated several times (1965: 32). Hawthorne mentions forest more than one time.

By mentioning the forest more than one time, Hawthorne wants to emphasize to

the reader that the forest is important place. The forest can be one of the symbols

in The Scarlet Letter because it is suitable to Stanton’s theory. The following

quotation becomes the proof.

It might be Antinomian, a Quaker, or other heterodox religionist, was to be scourged out of the town, or an idle and vagrant Indian, whom the white man’s firewater had made riotous about the streets, was to be driven with stripes into the shadow of the forest (1961: 57).

In that quotation, the word “forest” comes for the first time in chapter 2.

The story takes place in the market place when the puritans gather to see the

execution of a woman who does a crime. They guess who she is. But, whoever

that person is, she or he will be driven to the forest which is dark. Here forest

becomes important. It must signify something.

The word “forest” is repeated in the conversation between Hester Prynne

and Roger Chillingworth in chapter 4 “Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the

forest round about us? Hast thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of

my soul?” (1961: 81). Hester asks Chillingworth whether he is like a Black Man

that haunts the forest or not. The word “forest” is mentioned again in the

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“Wilt thou go with us tonight? There will be a merry company in the forest; and I well- nigh promised the Black Man that comely Hester Prynne should make one (1961: 116).”

“Make my excuse to him, so please you!” answered Hester, with a triumphant smile. “I must tarry at home, and keep watch over my little Pearl. Had they taken her from me, I would willingly have gone with thee into the forest, and signed my name in the Black Man’s book too, and that with mine own blood! ” (1961: 116).

Hibbin offers Hester to go with him in the forest to meet the Black Man

because there will be a merry company there. But, Hester says that she will come

to the forest if the people take Pearl from her. The forest becomes important in

this event because it is a place where the Black Man lives. The forest has many

different meanings to each character. In the Scarlet Letter, the forest symbolizes

more than one which is imagined. Each person brings out a different side of the

forest. For the Puritans, the forest may be a place of frightening thoughts. It means

that for the Puritans, they think that the forest is a frightening place. Based on the

story, the Black Man is evil. That is why there are no people who dare to go to the

forest.

In The Scarlet Letter, the forest also has the different meanings in the

different characters. The Puritans consider it as a place where the Black Man

lives. It can be seen in the conversation between Hester Prynne and Mistress

Hibbin that is explained in the previous analysis. The Black man brings a big and

heavy book with the iron key. If the people sign that book with his or her blood, it

means that he or she gives his or her soul to the Black Man. It will cause bad thing

to him or her. While, to Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, the forest is place

of happiness and freedom. No one knows about their meeting so that they will not

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know that Dimmesdale, a minister who is respected and loved by the Puritans is

Hester’s partner in committing adultery. Hester does not want to reveal the name

of her partner, because she wants to keep Dimmesdale’s good image. In the forest,

they are free to discuss their problem. They can talk about their future and arrange

a way to escape from the Puritans who have given them punishment. The forest is

like hiding place where they can share love and freedom for both Hester Prynne

and Dimmesdale. It will be explained further in the problem number two.

3. The Ship

The ship is a large vessel that travels in ocean. It is used for carrying

people or goods across the sea. In the novel, the ship has function as the usual

ship. It will travel from Massachusetts to Bristol. Besides the basic meaning of the

ship, it has other meaning. It symbolizes something inside the story. The ship

becomes the symbol because it is described in some length. It is suitable with

Barnet’s theory. According to Barnet’s theory, the writer emphasizes the symbols

by describing them in some length. It can be proved by the quotation from the

novel.

In furtherance of his choice, it so happened that a ship lay in the harbor; one of those questionable cruisers, frequent at the day, which, without being absolutely outlaws of the deep, yet roamed over its surface with a remarkable irresponsibility of character. This vessel had recently arrived from the Spanish Main, and within three days’ time would sail for Bristol (1961: 203).

That quotation tells about the description of the ship. The ship is lying in

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three days, it will sail to Bristol. At that time, the ship usually has no clear

identity.

The other reason why the ship becomes the symbol in The Scarlet Letter is

because it is repeated several times. An object is repeated several times to remain

the reader about that object. The following quotations can prove that the ship is

repeated several times

“But though shalt leave it all behind thee! It shall not cumber thy steps as thou treadest along the forest path; neither shalt thou freight the ship with it. Leave this wreck and ruin here where it happened” (1961: 188).

“So, Mistress,” said the mariner, “What with the ship’s surgeon and this other doctor, our only danger will be from drug or pill; more by token, as there is a lot of apothecary’s stuff aboard, which I traded for with a Spanish vessel (1961: 220).”

“Then tell her,” rejoined he, “that I spake again with the black-a-visaged hump-shouldered old doctor, and he engages to bring his friend, the gentleman she wots of, aboard with him. So let thy mother take no thought, save for herself and thee. Wilt thou tell her this, thou witch- baby? (1961: 229).”

Those three quotations show that the ship is repeated several times.

Hawthorne makes the ship repeatedly in order to call attention to the readers

toward that object. By doing this way, Hawthorne wants to emphasize that the

ship symbolizes something else. In other words, Hawthorne wants to say that the

ship is not only the usual ship but also a symbol. It is suitable with Stanton’s

theory of symbol. Stanton says that the author helps the reader to clarify the

symbol by describing the symbol in some length and repeating the object several

times.

The ship is a large vessel that travels in ocean. It is used for carrying

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about the literal meaning of the ship. It means that the researcher does not

examine the meaning of the ship in the everyday usage. But, this study observes

the meaning behind that object.

Based on the context of the story, the ship will be used for Hester Prynne,

Pearl and Arthur Dimmesdale to go to the Old England. Hester and Dimmesdale

make a plan to escape from the Puritans when they meet in the forest. They talk

about the way to get out from the Puritans. The Puritans has punished them

because of committing adultery. Hester is punished through the scarlet letter, it

makes her get a lot of sufferings. To Dimmesdale, the Puritans also have punished

him although they do not know that he is Hester’s partner. Dimmesdale suffers

because he hides a big secret to the Puritans who have respected him as a minister.

He feels guilty because he covers that secret. Besides, Chillingworth, Hester’s ex-

husband also haunts him. When Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the forest, they

make a plan to go to Old England to start a new life. They will go there by the

ship after three days when they meet in the forest. The ship is used to escape from

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B. The Significance of the Symbols Seen from Historical Perspectives

This second part of the analysis contains the significance of the symbols.

All the significance of those symbols is related to the context of the story. It will

also relate to the historical perspectives of the 17th century Puritans.

1. The Scarlet Letter “A”

The scarlet letter is contextual symbol. Contextual symbols are object or

events that are symbolic by virtue of poet’s handling them in a particular term.

Contextual symbols are created by the author, there is no exact meaning behind

the contextual symbols. The meaning behind the contextual symbols depends on

the context of the story that is created by the author. In other words, it depends on

the context that is made by the author. The researcher analyses it based on the

context of the story and also from the historical perspectives.

The scarlet letter is a letter “A” which is made of red cloth surrounded

with a gold thread. The letter “A” stands for adultery because Hester Prynne is

forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” because she commits adultery. It is worn by

Hester Prynne as the punishment of committing adultery. She is punished to stand

in the platform while showing the scarlet letter in her chest. The reason why the

author uses the color of scarlet because based on B.A.K.E.R Encyclopedia of the

Bible Volume 1 (1989: 495), scarlet is used as the figure of sin. The letter “A” and

the color represent what she has done. In the 17th century Puritans that is based on

the Christian Principle, adultery is considered as sin because it breaks the law of

God. She or he who commits adultery gets punishment from the Puritans. People

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causing shame and humiliation because it breaks the moral and religious marriage

contract. The following quotation proves the statement.

In Puritan society, adultery was considered the ultimate sin, a moral violation of God's will. Adultery was a capital offense, and people who committed it could be put to death. Adultery was punished publicly, with the intention of inflicting shame and humiliation, because it was a clear breaking of the moral and religious marriage contract between husband and wife. By threatening the bonds of marriage, the Puritans also viewed adultery as a threat to societal order (Johnson, accessed in 7 September 2011).

The memorable character of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The

Scarlet Letter is condemned to wear the scarlet letter "A" which symbolizes the

word "adulteress" for the rest of her life. The Puritans have marked her with the

scarlet letter because she does a sin. No one sympathizes with her because she is

sinful. It can be proved by the following quotation.

How strange, indeed! Man had marked this woman’s sin by a scarlet letter, which had such potent and disastrous efficacy that no human sympathy could reach her, save it were sinful like herself (1961:91- 92).

In the America Poetry and Prose (1960) which is written by Norman

Foeister and Robert Falk, there is a chapter entitled “The Puritan Age”.

Historically, it tells that in the 1644, there are a man and woman who commit

adultery. Although they have felt guilty, they are executed death penalty because

adultery is considered as a sin and both of them die very penitently. The following

quotation becomes the proof that adultery is considered as a sin. She or he who

commits adultery is sent to death.

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was death by God’s law. They were both executed, they both died very penitently (Foeister, 1960: 24).

The researcher finds another source about the crime of adultery. It tells the

story of Mary Latham an eighteen year old girl who is condemned the penalty of

death. John Winthrop writes the plight of Mary Latham in his diaries. The

following quotation becomes the proof.

This is the story of Mary Latham an eighteen-year-old girl who strayed from the moral path of her Puritan community and paid for her transgression with her life. This was the start of Mary's misfortunes, for the Massachusetts colony had that very year constructed its first code of laws and among these was the penalty of death for the crime of adultery. John Winthrop was the first Governor of Massachusetts Colony. He describes the plight of Mary Latham in his diaries: "At this court of assistants one James Britton, a man ill affected both to our church discipline and civil government, and one Mary Latham, a proper young woman about 18 years of age, whose father was a godly man and had brought her up well, were condemned to die for adultery” (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/adultery.htm, accessed in 9 September 2011).

Mary is like Hester Prynne who is punished because of committing

adultery. The difference is that Hester is forced to wear the scarlet letter as long as

her life as the punishment. At first, she is also sentenced death penalty, but

because at that moment people think that her husband dies in the sea and she still

has a little baby, the punishment is changed. The magistrates think that she is not

wrong at all. It is called adultery if the husband of the sinner is still alive and she

has affair with another man who is not her husband. Moreover, the magistrates

have great mercy and tenderness of heart. It can be proved by the following

quotation.

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remainder of her natural life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom” (1961:69).

In chapter two, it tells that there are a large number of the inhabitants of

Boston gather to know what kind of punishment that is given to Hester Prynne.

Some of them say that she should be dead because she has brought shame upon all

Puritans, while the others say that she should be marked with the hot iron in her

forehead. Finally, the magistrates decide to mark her with the scarlet letter “A”.

She has to stand in the scaffold and shows the scarlet letter to the all Puritans in

market place. She also has to wear it as long as her life, so that the Puritans know

the consequences of doing sin.

A lane was forthwith opened through the crowd of spectators. Preceded by the beadle, and attended by an irregular procession of stern-browed men and unkindly visage women, Hester Prynne set forth towards the place appointed for her punishment (1961:62).

“She hath good skill at her needle, that’s certain,” remarked one of her female spectators; “ but did ever a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it! Why? gossips, what is it but to laugh in the faces for our goodly magistrates, make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment (1961: 61).

“Open a passage; and, I promise ye, Mistress Hester Prynne shall be set where man, woman and child may have a fair sight of her brave apparel, from this time till an hour past meridian. A blessing on the righteous Colony of the Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine! Come along, Madam Hester, and show your scarlet letter in the market place!” (1961:62).

Those quotations show that the scarlet letter is punishment that is given to

Hester Prynne. Her punishment is showing the scarlet letter to the public while

standing a certain times upon the platform. The people look at her with the scarlet

letter in her breast, Hester feels as if they throw her hearth in the road in order to

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punishment. She thinks that day by day will bring temptations to her. Each day

with its own temptation, but it will be still the same with what she has to bear now

with the sorrow.

The days in the future will toil onward still with the same burden for her to

take up and bear along with her, but it never flings down. Throughout them all,

she will become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist may point,

and in which they may picture their images of woman’s weakness and sinful

passion. And over her grave, the scarlet letter that she must carry will be her only

monument. It makes her more suffer than she is sentenced death penalty.

It is appropriate to the historical perspectives of the 17th century Puritans

society. The punishment of the people who commit adultery is condemned to die

or punished publicly with the intention of inflicting shame and humiliation

(Johnson, accessed in 7 September 2011). Hester gets the second one, she is

punished publicly with the intention of inflicting shame and humiliation. So, the

scarlet letter “A” signifies punishment. Hester Prynne is punished because she

commits adultery. According to the Puritans, adultery is considered as a sin.

People who commit adultery are sent to die or punished publicly. Hester is

punished publicly, she is forced to wear the scarlet letter in her chest as long as

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2. The Forest

The basic meaning of forest is a large area of land that is thickly covered

with trees. Each person brings out different opinions of the forest. For some, the

forest may be a place of frightening thoughts. Some people think that forest is a

frightening place where there are many evil there.

In The Scarlet Letter, the forest is contextual symbol. Contextual symbols

are object or events that are symbolic by virtue of poet’s handling them in a

particular term. Contextual symbols are created by the author, there is no exact

meaning behind the contextual symbols. The meaning behind the contextual

symbols depends on the context of the story that is created by the author. In other

words, it depends on the context that is made by the author.

Historically, the forest signifies frightening place. It becomes frightening

because the Puritans consider it as a kind of hell. It is a kind of hell because they

regard the forest as a place which is haunted by the devil. It also becomes a

frightening place because the forest is a place where the Indians live. The Puritans

consider the Indian to be devil-worshippers, so it is appropriate to the Puritans’

opinion which regards the forest as a place which is haunted by the devil. In

addition, the Puritans believe that witches held their rites in the forest. It is also

suggested by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter. It can be proved by the

following quotation.

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There is another quotation stating the same thing about the forest. It is said

that no Puritans has the positive ideas about the forest because the Indians live

there. The Puritans assumed that the Indians are devil worshippers. Witches who

are involved in the devil also hold their ritual there. So, the Puritans see the forest

as a sort of hell and the devil will be there.

Puritans had all sorts of ideas about the forest...none of them putting it in a positive light. The Indians lived in the woods, which the Puritans assumed were devil worshipers. Witches also held their covens in the woods, who were involved with the devil as well. Therefore, as we see in evidence such as Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown," (which may be the source of your question) the Puritans saw the forest as a sort of "hell," and the devil would (of course) be there (Karma, accessed in 9 September 2011).

Based on the context of the story, the forest is like usual forest. It is a large

area which is covered by the trees. The forest separates the road with very high,

black and dense trees until the sky above is rarely seen. It shows that the forest is

full of mystery and considered as a frightening place. It is suitable with the

significance of the forest seen from historical perspectives which are analyzed

before. The description can be seen in the following quotation.

It straggled onward into the mystery of the primeval forest. This hemmed it in so narrowly, and stood so black and dense on either side, and disclosed such imperfect glimpses of the sky above, that, to Hester mind, it imaged not amiss the moral wilderness in which she had so long been wandering (1961: 175).

In chapter 4, Hester asks questions whether Chillingworth is like the Black

Man that haunts the forest or not. In the story, the Black Man represents devil that

haunts the forest. The devil can entice people into a bond that will prove the ruin

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“Art thou like the Black Man that haunts the forest round about us? Hast thou enticed me into a bond that will prove the ruin of my soul?” (1961: 81).

The forest is the place where the Black Man lives. The Black Man is an

evil, once people are trapped, they cannot go out. The following quotation is said

by Pearl, Hester’s child. She delivers what the Puritans think of the forest. The

following quotation shows how the Black Man haunts the forest. It can strengthen

the evidence.

“O, a story about the Black Man,” answered Pearl, talking hold of her mother’s gown, and looking up, half earnestly, half mischievously, into her face.” How he haunts this forest, and carries a book with him- a big, heavy book, with iron clasps; and how this ugly Black Man offers his book and an iron pen to everybody that meets him here among the tress; and they are to write their names with their own blood. And then he sets his mark on their bosoms! Didst thou ever meet the Black Man mother?” (1961: 177).

Moreover, in chapter 8, Mistress Hibbin and Hester Prynne also talk about

the Black Man. Hibbin offers Hester to go with her in the forest to meet the Black

Man because there will be a merry company there. But, Hester says that she will

come to the forest if the people take Pearl from her. The forest becomes important

in this event because it is a place where the Black Man lives. These two following

quotations can be the proof.

“Wilt thou go with us tonight? There will be a merry company in the forest; and I well- nigh promised the Black Man that comely Hester Prynne should make one (1961: 116).”

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Based on the story, the Black Man is devil. The Black man brings a big

and heavy book with the iron key. If the people sign that book with his or her

blood, it means that he or she gives his or her soul to the Black Man. It will cause

bad thing to him or her, so no one is dare to go to the forest. It is appropriate to the

historical perspectives of the 17th century Puritans that regard the forest as a place

which is haunted by the devil. That is the reason why the forest signifies

frightening place according to the Puritans.

This perspective is used by Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale to meet

in the forest. No one knows about their meeting so that they will not know the

scandal which Hester and Dimmesdale involve in. The Puritans does not know

that Dimmesdale, a minister who is respected and loved by the Puritans is

Hester’s partner in committing adultery. Hester does not want to reveal the name

of her partner, because she wants to keep Dimmesdale’s good image. In the forest,

they are free to discuss their problem. They can talk about their future and arrange

a way to escape from the Puritans who have given them punishment. The forest is

like place where they can share love and freedom for both Hester Prynne and

(50)

3. The Ship

The ship is used to bring things and people who want to travel from one

place to other place in long distance. In the story, the ship has function as the

usual ship. It has recently arrived from the Spanish Main and will travel from

Boston to Bristol.

The ship is contextual symbol. Contextual symbols are object or events

that are symbolic by virtue of poet’s handling them in a particular term.

Contextual symbols are created by the author, there is no exact meaning behind

the contextual symbols. The meaning behind the contextual symbols depends on

the context of the story that is created by the author. In other words, it depends on

the context that is made by the author. In this study, the researcher analyses the

significance of the symbol by relating the context of the story that is made by the

author and the historical perspectives.

Based on the context of the story in The Scarlet Letter, the ship will be

used by Hester and Dimmesdale to escape from the Puritans. They have suffered

because of the punishment. They used the ship when they want to escape from the

punishment that is given by the Puritans. It can be proved by the next quotation.

“Then there is the broad pathway of the sea!” continued Hester. “It brought thee hither. If thou so choose, it will bear thee back again. In our native land, whether in some remote rural village or in vast London or surely, in Germany, in French, in pleasant Italy- thou wouldst be beyond his power and knowledge! And what hast thou to do with all these iron men, and their opinions? They have kept thy better part in bondage too long already!” (1961: 188).

The following quotation is Hester’s word that is trying to ask Dimmesdale

Figur

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Referensi

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