Let’s Be Real (seriously though)

I recently finished reading the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and  it is one of the most beautiful and powerful books that I’ve ever read.

One aspect about the book that really resonated with me was one of Hawthorne’s morals, stated in the book’s conclusion: “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!”

Hawthorne is telling the reader to be genuine- not a fake, fabricated shell of who they are. This moral is best demonstrated by Reverend Dimmesdale, one of the main characters in the Scarlet Letter. Dimmesdale is taken captive not just by the guilt and despair caused by his sin, but also by the sheer weight of falsity brought about by his refusal to acknowledge his part in the sin. Dimmesdale is only liberated from the burden of his sin once he inwardly and publicly confesses his wrongs and puts to death the facade that he had maintained for so long.

Similar to Dimmesdale, I often find myself concocting a shell of who I am. This shell is formulated off of one central fear. If other people see the real me- what I really think, what I really would say in certain situations, what I’ve really done and what I really want- they will judge me. I care way too much about how others will perceive me. So, I assemble a character that reveals enough, but never her all. But rather than resulting in the freedom from judgement that I seek, this fabrication results in imprisonment- a sense of captivity within myself. Much like how Dimmesdale reclaims himself from the bondage of sin by confessing, I realize that I need to reclaim my self from the bondage of my ideal person by accepting Angel (as much as I dislike her at times).

When I read this, I put the book down and paced around my bedroom, because of how deeply it connected with me. It was like Nathaniel Hawthorne dived into the depths of my soul and saw the raging war that is my identity crisis. It was as if Hawthorne observed this war, laughed to himself, and decided to send me a note in the Scarlet Letter (thanks Hawthorne- you’re bae for life). I honestly felt like I was Demi Lovato in Camp Rock:

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It is evident that Hawthorne views this lesson as extremely important, as seen in how he repeats “Be true!” three times. He clearly wanted the reader to pay attention to this line, so I encourage all of you to do so- let’s be real.

– Angel

One comment

  1. Karith Magnuson · December 14, 2015

    Powerful, well-articulated writing. I love how you (effortlessly) integrate textual analysis, personal experience/narration, and direct challenge to your readers. You take a book that is (often) easily ignored for being out-dated and (thus) irrelevant, and make it potently, vividly relateable. Very nicely done.

    Just watch out for title formatting . . .

    Like

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