Get help from the best in academic writing.

Essay on the Use of Chiaroscuro in The Scarlet Letter

Use of Chiaroscuro in The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne the author of The Scarlet Letter uses the literary device of chiaroscuro to effectively develop his characters. Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804 to a prominent family. His father passed away on a voyage when he was four years old. His relatives recognized his talent, and they helped pay his way to Bowdoin College. Hawthorne and his classmates became the most prominent people in America at that time. He had many strong ties with important people from attending Bowdoin, such as: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce. In 1828, his first novel, Fanshawe was anonymously published at his own expense. In 1842, he befriended Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott, and married Sophia Peabody, an active member of the Transcendentalist movement. In 1846, he was appointed surveyor of the Port of Salem where he worked for the next three years, being unable to earn a living as a writer. He wrote The Scarlet Letter in 1850, showing the Puritans as hypocrites fixated on sin. This romance was an immediate success, even though it received many criticisms for its risqué topic. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne effectively uses chiaroscuro to develop the personalities of Hester Prynne, Pearl, and Arthur Dimmesdale.

Hawthorne uses chiaroscuro to show Hester Prynne as a woman whose sin has overtaken her, and made her impure. One example of this is: “The mother’s…medium through which were transmitted to the unborn infant the rays of its moral life; and however white and clear originally, they …

… middle of paper …

… In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne effectively uses chiaroscuro to develop the personalities of Hester Prynne, Pearl, and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hawthorne uses chiaroscuro to show the depth of Hester’s guilt and strength of bearing her sin and Arthur’s secret. Pearl is characterized as radiant through Hawthorne’s vibrant descriptions of her beauty. He uses the sun to depict the purity of Pearl. Hawthorne uses shadows to show how Arthur is a meager man compared to Hester, also bearing the sin. Hawthorne shows Arthur deteriorating from his guilt, while Hester pushes herself to live on and try to overcome it, still always bearing its weight and pain. In conclusion, chiaroscuro is effectively used by Hawthorne to develop the personalities of his characters.

Essay on Theism versus Atheism in Catch-22

Theism versus Atheism in Catch-22

Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 deals with many issues that mankind is prone to deal with. One issue that is raised is the subject of theism versus atheism.

This argument is manifested in a dialogue, approximately two pages in length, between Yossarian, the main character, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife. In this particular scene, Yossarian and the lieutenant’s wife are debating the existence of G-d, presumably in the Judeo-Christian sense. The scene begins with each character introduced as an atheist, although the degeneration of the argument eventually proves somewhat otherwise. Yossarian is portrayed as a character in a perpetually negative mindset; he is invariably bitter and jaded, particularly because he has been forced to fight in World War II. Yossarian’s experiences have led him to expect the worst from life, and to disbelieve in a g-d that causes such things as tooth decay and pain. The reader knows very little about Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife, aside from her sexual escapades with the soldiers serving under her husband. Nevertheless, she seems to be under the impression that there are things in life to be grateful for under any circumstances. Yossarian attempts to prove his point through a long-winded and rather humorous speech about G-d being a bumbling fool who “robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements” (189). While Yossarian raises a valid question against the existence of G-d, the fact that he debates the existence of G-d at all and speaks as though G-d exists provides the loophole necessary for this G-d to be a Catch-22.

Taken into consideration without the idea of Catch-22, the singular flaw in Yossarian’s argument is that h…

… middle of paper …

… point of silliness) directly opposite a serious point in order to make the point more obvious. The fact that Heller chose religion as a subject to tackle shows great strength, particularly considering that Catch-22 was originally written in the late 1950s – a time in which the concept free-thinking was still in its infancy. The method of satire as a means of attacking an issue provides an effective outlet for the expression of ideas while maintaining a light overtone as a defense against retaliation. The scene pertaining to the atheism debate was both amusing and thought provoking, a task difficult to overcome.

Works Cited:

Heller, Joseph. The Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism. Twentieth-Century American Literature Vol. 3. New York. Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Dell Publishing, 1991

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.