The Scarlet Letter
Works like The Scarlet Letter touch the deepest emotional feelings, not in a sentimental way, but in a way that demands change and action. In other words, the novel raises the possibility of a reformation in society with a creation of new values. A recurring theme found in the works of Hawthorne is the "great" past as it is contrasted with the meager present. Part of Hawthorne’s romanticism is the return to the past, not to glorify it, but rather to suggest that the past was inadequate, and while the present is not the "promised land," it does offer hope for a better future. The overall thesis of The Scarlet Letter is that sinners do not need redemption, but that people, and especially women, are victims of a social order that violates nature. Thus, the novel has a tone that is anti-Biblical. The value of the novel is its study of hypocrisy and of the effects of vengeance and sin.