a) in what way is the book "an argument"?;
b) what is the book (the author) arguing for?
This can't possibly be a two sentence answer I'm sure. So, let me just possibly send you in the right direction. You;ll have to be able to defend your conclusion.
Is it possible that Hawthorne intended this to speak to the harshness with which we judge others by using an example from one of the areas that we seem to judge most strictly (sex) while at the same time engaging in ourselves?
In my mind, Hawthorne wants us to feel some sympathy for Hester and much sympathy for Pearl. He wants us to think about the implications of judging others harshly (as was custom at the time) and to consider whether Pearl should suffer for the sins of her mother. Or even, whether the sins of Hester was truly that egregious to warrant the punishment she received.
It's very possible that this story is really about crime and punishment and not about "being naughty".
Of course, we could analyze this one for months and still never come up with one absolute conclusion.
Just my opinion -it's been 2 or 3 years since I read the book, but:
1)The book is an argument about morality. Do individual values or societal values have more importance? Think about our government (individual rights sometimes excessively protected), versus Star Trek morality... "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or one."
2) Again - my opinion, but the author seems to be taking the view that societal norms (rules to protect society from individual excess) are hypocritical and impossible. The "respected" reverend is just as guilty as Hester, but she bears the brunt of the punishment. (Which also makes the case for the book being an argument for women's rights!)
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