AMBARSARI, IKA (2010)
AGAINST THE DOMINANT IDEOLOGY IN NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE’S
THE SCARLET LETTER: A MARXIST APPROACH. RESEARCH PAPER. Ika
Ambarsari, A 320 050 117, English Department, School of Teacher Training and
Education, Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta, 2010.
The major problem of this study is how the struggle of Hester Prynne against
the Dominant Ideology (law/government regulation) in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The
Scarlet Letter, especially viewed from Marxist approach. The object of this study is
the novel The Scarlet Letter, which is giving emphasis on the major character. The
aim of the study is giving contribution to the body knowledge, particularly the
literary study on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
The technique of collecting data analysis is library research. In this study, the
writer uses two data sources, namely primary and secondary data. The primary data
source is the novel itself and secondary data are the theory of Marxist, which is
introduced by Karl Marx, and other books that are related to the research. The
method of data collection is qualitative research.
The results of the research are as follows: firts, the analysis of structural
elements of The Scarlet Letter novel are connected each other to form unity that
cannot be separated one from another in order to support each other. Second, The
Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary work that tell about Hester’s struggle
against the Dominant Ideology to get her freedom and rights from the pain of
punishment and the authority of oppressor in goverment. The last, Marxist analysis
shows that there is life changing of major characters in freedom of pain is resulted
from struggling against law as the Dominant Ideology in government of country
which arranges the human life that makes conflict between the upper class and lower
class, the oppressor and oppressed. The life changing of struggle the freedom creates
new changing of law in which law should not give cruel punishment to the criminal
people which breaks the human rights in the society life.
A. Background of the Study
Marxist criticism is a type of criticism in which literary works of
viewed as the product of work and whose practitioners emphasize the role of
class and ideology as they as repositories for hidden meanings. According to
Forgacs, Marxism is a living body of thought and a set of real political
practices that are influenced by changes in the world as aims to interference to
change the world. Marxist approach seeks to expose the dominant class
(Forgacs, 1987: 166).
Marxist thought is very popular up to now although its founder have
died and the communist countries that apply this thought such as the Soviet
Union and the North German have fallen. This popular thought derived from a
figure namely Karl Heinrich Marx. He was born on May 5th 1818 in tries city
in Rheiland Region of German (Prussia).
Marxism began with Karl Marx, the nineteenth century German
philosopher, best known for capital (1867; capital). The seminal work of the
communist movement, Marx was also the first Marxist literary critic, writing
critical essay in the 1835 on such as Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was primarily a theorist and historian. After
examining social organization in a scientific way (Thereby creating a
methodology for social science), he perceived human history to have consisted
of a series of struggles between classes-between the oppressed and oppressing
the supposedly “natural” political evolution involved (and would in the future
involve) “feudalism” leading to “bourgeois” capitalism, leading to socialism
and finally to “Utopian” communism. In bourgeois capitalism, the privileged
bourgeoisie region the proletariat the labor force responsible for survival.
Marx theorized that when profits are not reinvested in the workers but in
creating more factories, the workers will grow poorer and poorer until no short
term patching is possible or successful. At a crisis point, revolt will lead to a
restructuring of the system.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the novelists in the nineteenth century.
He was born on July 4, 1804 Massachusetts. The Scarlet Letter is one of
literary works and this is a novel with the happy ending story. The other
Nathaniel Hawthorne works are Twice-Told Tales published in 1837 and The
House of the Seven Gable in 1851. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850
having 245 pages divided into 24 chapters.
The Scarlet Letter is novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne published
in the spring of 1850 by Ticknor and Fields. A young woman, Hester Prynne,
is leads from the town prison with her infant daughter, Pearl, in her arms and
The Scarlet Letter “A” represents the act of adultery that she has committed
and it is to be a symbol of her sin- a badge of shame- for all to see. A woman
in the crowd tells an elderly onlooker that Hester is being punished for
adultery. Hester husband, who is much older than her, sends her ahead to
America, but he never arrives in Boston. The consensus is that he has been
lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester has apparently has an affair
with priest, as she has given birth to a child. She will not reveal her lover’s
identity, however, and The Scarlet Letter, along with her public shaming, is
her punishment for her sin and her secrecy. On this day Hester is leads to the
town Scaffold and harangues by the town fathers, but she again refuses to
identify her child’s father. Because of her adultery with priest, she gets many
punishments from many cases, especially in aspect of law or government
regulation that to be a Dominant Ideology. Besides government punishment
there is also punishment from society (custom law). Some punishment were
cruel, terrible until expulsion, it makes life of someone suffer. But it forces
Hester to pass all of the punishment. Some punis hment that Hester gets comes
from punishment of government and society (custom law). In the past time
there are laws of Christianity that a priest disallows to marry or has close
relation with woman, because a priest should be sacred. The priest must give
all of his life to serve society in case of religion. He should obey the law of
Christianity. The punishment from society custom, which forces Hester to use
clothes with symbol The Scarlet Letter “A” on her bosom which “A”
represents the act of adultery of her sin. Hester Prynne a young woman who
feels lonely because she leaves her husband, makes her brave ly has an affair
with a priest. Hester has an affair because she needs love from man and she
gets love from Dimmesdale. Although knowing the risk of her affair with
priest, she still passes it. Obstinately she passes all of punishment by using
clothes “The Scarlet Letter “A” on her bosom. Her husband tries to separate
Hester from Dimmesdale after Roger Chillingworth knows that Hester has an
affair with a priest. He has a plan to reveal the Dimmesdale identity, but
Hester asks chillingworth to stop adding Dimmesdale self-torment.
The researcher is interested in analyzing The Scarlet Letter novel,
because it is a controversial novel. It is a controversial because the content of
The Scarlet Letter is a great problem which has done by a priest to a woman to
district or disobey the law or government regulation, in which it is contrast
with human life. The Scarlet Letter novel also talks about the capacity of the
major character regains love and justice through the sacrifice and struggle.
Beside that the writer is also interested the struggle of Hester prynne (major
character) against The Dominant Ideology, especially in law or government
regulation to get justice, love, and freedom.
From the background above, the writer is interested in analyzing the
novel on the major character Hester Prynne fighting Dominant Ideology and
seeing how struggle gets justice and freedom from the pain of punishment
from law in social life and in relation love between a priest and a woman in
order to allow in government regulation or law in social life and receives by
society. The writer uses Marxist Approach to analyze the novel.
B. Literature Review
As long as the writer knows, there are two researches that had been
conducted on the same novel. The writer found that the novel had been
analyzed by Yulia Widihastuti, student of Muhammadiyah University of
Surakarta in 2006. She conducted a research entitled “Struggle for Woman
Right’s“in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter: A Feminist Approach.
She focused on the analysis of woman rights. She analyzed the woman rights
in Hester prynne, such as sacrifice to get equality position in society and
working. She also analyzed how hard the struggle of Hester prynne’s life, her
bravery, and sacrifices to get again her love.
The other researcher is Sriwahyuni, Gunadarma University in 2001,
entitled “The Anxiety of Hester prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet
Letter”. She analyzed the expression of human internal battle in overcoming
the anxiety and confusion when she disobeys the culture and religion to get
Different from two previous researchers, this study focuses on struggle
of the major character named Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The
Scarlet Letter using a Marxist Approach.
C. Problem Statement
Related to the title and the background of the study, the problem
statement is “how the struggle of Hester prynne against the Dominant
Ideology (law/government regulation)”?
D. Limitation of the Study
The limitation of the study is how struggle against Dominant Ideology
is done by Hester Prynne reflected in The Scarlet Letter, especially viewed by
the Marxist Perspective.
E. The objectives of the study are as follows
A. To analyze the novel in terms of its structural element.
B. To analyze the novel based on Marxist Approach.
F. Benefit of the Study
Two kinds of benefits which can be gained from the study are as
A. Theoretical Benefits
This study is purposed to improve the body of knowledge in studying
literature and give contribution to literary studies on Nathaniel
Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
B. Practical Benefits
The study is expected to enrich the knowledge of the researcher and the
readers about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter based on Marxism
G. Research Method
In analyzing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the researcher
uses qualitative method. Dealing with research method, there are four points
that need to be involved as follows:
A. Object of the study
The object of the study is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
B. Data sources
In doing the study, the researcher uses two sources of data, namely:
a. Primary data source
The primary data source is the novel of The Scarlet Letter it self
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
b. The secondary data sources are some material related to the data
required, such as the writer’s biography, related theories, history of USA.
C. Technique of data collection
The method of data collection in this study is library research. The
researcher collects a record the data from both primary and secondary data
a. Reading the novel
b. Identifying the topic of the novel
c. Looking for the secondary data
d. Classifying and determining the relevant data
e. Arranging, researching, and developing the selected materials into a
good unity toward the topic of the study.
D. Technique of the data analysis
The technique of data analysis is descriptive analysis, in which the writer
tries to describe structural elements of the novel and identifies the
H. Research Paper Organization
This paper is being divided into six chapter that is introduction which
explains the background of the study, literary review, problem statement,
objective of the study, benefit of the study, research me thod and paper
organization. The second chapter is underlying theory of Marxist approach.
The third consists of social historical background of American society at the
seventeenth century includes social, economic and political, science and
technology, cultural and religious aspect. The fourth chapter consists of
structural analysis of the novel and discussion. The fifth chapter consists of
analysis based on Marxist Perspective. The last chapter is the conclusion and