The Evil Side of Society Essay Example

  • Category: Society, Sociology,
  • Words: 821 Pages: 3
  • Published: 18 June 2021
  • Copied: 125

George Washington once said, “It is far better to be alone than be in bad company”. While being alone might seem sad to some people, being secluded transcends being pressured by a corrupt society. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne proves how society is corrupt and selfish. Society terrorizes and ridicules Hester for one sin she made, and the townspeople continuously remind her of her sins. When Hester is alone, she is calm and at peace away from society. She is not pressured or attacked, relating to Henry David Thoreau’s beliefs in Walden. Thoreau explains how important nature is because it is a place to be alone and uninfluenced by society. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes diction to prove that being under the influence of society can corrupt an individual. Doing so reveals that being secluded and away from society is beneficial. 

In The Scarlet Letter and “Civil Disobedience”, Hawthorne and Thoreau use characterization to reveal how society is rude and selfish in an attempt to show that being pressured by society can corrupt an individual.  The selfish personality shows when one townsperson states, “This woman has brought shame upon us all and ought to die” (Hawthorne 48). The diction in the phrase “ought to die” expresses how harsh and heartless the citizens are. Since Hester committed a sin, they do not think she is worthy of being alive anymore. The phrase “brought shame upon us all” reveals their self-centeredness. They are apathetic about what will happen to Hester, they only care about the fact that she might damage their pure, sin-free reputation. The townspeople use Hester as an example, and instead of feeling sorrow for her, they judge and ridicule her, exposing the selfishness of society. 

Similarly, in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Thoreau exposes how individuals in society only care about themselves: “...a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in the right...but because they are physically the strongest” (Thoreau 4).  Here, Thoreau comments that the majority rule cannot signify justice for all, because the majority will only focus on helping themselves instead of everyone else. The diction in the phrase “physically the strongest” shows how individuals feel more powerful than those under them and only care about themselves. The majority of people relate to the Puritans in The Scarlet Letter. Both of these groups are apathetic  to anyone’s feelings but their own. In Thoreau’s quote, society is rude and ignorant of other people, and in The Scarlet Letter the Puritans are rude and horrible to Hester Prynne. These two authors reveal the flaws in society as most people care only about themselves and lack empathy towards others. Ease transition

Through the use of vivid diction, Hawthorne characterizes Hester Prynne as calm and relaxed while in nature. Doing so reveals the corruption of society and the impact of societal pressure on an individual. When Hester and Dimmesdale first enter the woods, the woods have “swifter and livelier passages”, and are “kind, quiet, and soothing” (Hawthorne 182-192). The words, “livelier” and “soothing” both have happier, relaxing, positive connotations. This shows how Hester feels in the woods- calm and relaxed. She is away from the judgemental townspeople and society.

However, when she has to leave, the woods have descriptions such as, “How dreary looked the forest track where Hester Prynne must take up the burden of her ignominy” (Hawthorne 182-192). The word “dreary” reveals how much the setting has changed now that she has to return to the real world. “Dreary” means dark and unpleasant”, exposing Hester’s feelings toward the townspeople. When she was in the woods, she was secluded from the judgement and ridicule from society, but now she has to return. The word “again” emphasizes how she has been treated poorly for years and the harassment keeps continuing. She feels upset that she has to return to the town and feel the societal pressure to be pure and sin-free, which she is not. 

Similarly, in Henry David Thoreau’s Where I lived and What I lived for, Thoreau uses diction to reveal the corruption of society and peacefulness of the woods. Thoreau comments, “I did not wish to live what was not life”, and “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life” (Thoreau 74). The phrase “what was not life” correlates to the pressures of society. Living one’s life the way society tells them to is not living life. The phrase “live deliberately” is what one should live their life by- doing what they want to do, not what society tells them to do. Hester living in the town and being harassed on the daily for not doing what society told her to do is her not living life to its full potential,. Hester in the woods, surrounded by nature, is her living deliberately. When she is in the woods, she is not under the pressure and judgement of society and is calm and relaxed. This sentence isn't really needed because you already said she isn't under pressure and judgement of society. Hester now does what she wants and not what society wants, just like Henry David Thoreau. Both Hester’s and Thoreau’s relationship with nature exposes the harshness and shallow nature of society.



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