나사니엘 호손의 『주홍글자』에서 나타나는 프래그마티즘적 미학의 윤리성에 대한 고찰
The Ethical Dimensions of the Pragmatic Aesthetics in Hawthorne"s The Scarlet Letter
This paper examines the ethical dimensions of the pragmatic aesthetics configurated in Nathaniel Hawthorne"s The Scarlet Letter. Textual analysis for this particular project is preceded by some discussion of the latest development of American pragmatism, especially its shift of interest from aesthetics to ethics. I analyzed the pragmatist aesthetics in The Scarlet Letter by making reference to American pragmatists such as Emerson, James, Dewey, Shusterman, Poirier, and Gunn, and to some of the Derrida"s deconstructive insights into the differential play of language and the self-deconstructive propensity in textual operations. In “The Pragmatics of the Ethics” Giles Gunn equates the pragmatic narrative with the esthetic text in that "the aesthetic texts are less interested in confirming or interpreting the known than in extending the realm of the knowable"(9). Gunn also argues that the "aesthetic experience" we get from such texts "is pure experience. For it is experience, freed from forces that impede and confuse its development as experience; freed that is, from factors that subordinate an experience as it is directly had to something beyond itself" (139). Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter provides the reader with such an experience by using the scarlet symbol as one of the significant characters of the fiction. The referent of the fragmented signifier becomes the center of the reader"s attention as well as the other characters in the novel. The symbol invokes in the audience an aesthetic experience with its ever-shifting meaning. As Nina Baym has already pointed out the A in the fiction has no meaning so that it has multiple meaning, a condition of diverse responses, freeing its reader from the conventional attitudes toward language, self-hood and meaning. The semantic variety of the letter A caused by the differential play of language and self-deconstructive textual operation serves as an antidote to both the single-minded puritan authorities and the Puritan"s holistic value-system by hampering their efforts to essentialize one ideal meaning or a wholesales value with which they want to govern and restrict the individual"s private affairs of the heart. The subversion of such a monistic value system is prerequisite to postulate a new sense of community which is built upon appreciation of difference than reference of it. Thus, the letter not only deconstructs the outworn mode of thinking but also helps us envisage a possibility of alternative ways of being. Indeed, The Scarlet Letter is one example of the pragmatic and aesthetic narrative which "could be held to carry within itself practical dimensions with markedly ethical overtones," to borrow Gunn"s words (Pragmatics 5).
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