Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a study of the effects of sin on the hearts and minds of the main characters, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. Sin strengthens Hester, humanizes Dimmesdale, and turns Chillingworth into a demon.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne presents the reader with the harsh, life changing conflicts of three Puritan characters during the 17th century. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Robert Chillingworth must endure their different, yet surprisingly similar struggles as the novel progresses. Despite their similarities, Hawthorne shows these individuals deal with their conflicts differently, and in the end, only one prevails. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s intricately critical diction helps determine his didactic tone; during the course of The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne reveals that happiness can be harnessed through one’s perseverance.
When Hester is released from prison, she ponders the effect of the scarlet letter and realizes, “she must either sustain and carry it forward by the ordinary resources of her nature, or sink beneath it” (Hawthorne 69). In other words, Hester knows that allowing other people to bring her down will lead to self-destruction. Through a great deal of inner strength, Hester decides to stay in her hometown and let “the torture of her daily shame . . . purge her soul and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saintlike, because the result of martyrdom” (Hawthorne 71). Essentially, Hester resolves to learn from her “mistake” and use the situation as a growing opportunity. Decisively, Hester concludes that although she cannot change the past, she can show her strength and resolve by overcoming the shaming that is sure to occur in her town. Hester’s honesty and willingness to accept her punishment enable her to
All of the major characters in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne are dynamic and go through some form of character development. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, who are at the forefront of the central conflict in the plot of the novel, are no exception. While their respective evolutions in character were noticeably different, each was emphasized by the three scaffold scenes. The differences of Hester and Dimmesdale’s respective character developments are highlighted and emphasized by the three scaffold scenes in the novel.
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne shows multiple connections between characters and nature. As the story progresses nature becomes more prevalent in the characters and continues to establish certain characteristics for each character. This established connection provides a view into the depths of human nature that each character portrays.
The author, in lines 24 to 29, compares Hester’s scarlet letter to a “passport into regions where other women dared not tread,” and later mentions how the mentors of her life—shame, despair, and solitude—taught her strong but amiss, different from other women. These metaphors depict the dual nature of Hester: the sinful bearer of the scarlet letter and audacious woman of brooding resilience. In spite of her emblem of shame, Hester boldly continued to hold her head high, resisting all the consequences of her adultery. The metaphors employed here, therefore, provide a thorough inspection of Hester’s state of mind and paints a deeper and more poignant picture of Hester Prynne’s
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a brilliant writer of the 19th century. Hawthorne created a novel that reflected the time period of the Puritans in New England. The Scarlet Letter contains a representation of the people during that time period but can also be related to the reader’s time period. Originally, God created the world with complete perfection until man fell, and sin entered the world. In the eyes of God, a sin is a sin. There is no worse sin that one can commit. Man is the one that decided that one sin could be more harshly judged than another. Hawthorne uses the theme of sin to show the importance of one’s faith and conviction and how those principles relate to fallen sinners.
Throughout, “The Scarlet Letter,” Hawthorne is able to enhance the plot by intricately incorporating symbols which represent a deeper meaning. One of which, is the infamous, and ambiguous, scarlet letter that lays upon the bosom of Hester Prynne. In the beginning of the book, the audience is immediately introduced to the scarlet letter as a symbol of shame and adultery. The narrator describes the Puritan society as very judgemental and harsh. Comments like, “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die,” creates this negative and unwelcoming atmosphere which surrounds Hester for a majority of the book. From then on, the Puritans constantly refer to the
In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays a Puritan society plagued with guilt and corruption. Throughout the novel, characters are punished for their hypocrisy and Hawthorne shows the flaws in Puritan societies. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Robert Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter become so consumed in their ambitions that they are unable to discern the hypocrisy of their beliefs, and as a result, Hawthorne critics and punishes these members of the Puritan society.
The setting of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet letter” is crucial to the understanding of the event that takes place in the story. The setting of the story is in Salem, Massachusetts during the Puritan era. During the Puritan era, adultery was taken as a very serious sin, and this is what Hester and Dimmesdale committ with each other. Because of the sin, their lives change, Hester has to walk around in public with a Scarlet Letter “A” which stands for adultery, and she is constantly being tortured and is thought of as less than a person. Dimmesdale walks around with his sin kept as secret, because he never admits his sin, his mental state is changing, and the sin degrades his well-being. Chillingworth
Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her generous accomplishments the community realizes she is a person who, regardless of her sin, can affect the community in a positive way.
In spite of that, what makes her the protagonist of the story is how she is able to overcome her punishment that was meant to give her shame. Throughout Chapter 13 of the book, Hawthorne shows how Hester’s confidence has developed in herself and in view of the town, most noticeably when considering the meaning of the scarlet letter, “Such helpfulness was found in her ... that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength,” (Hawthorne 107). Instead of subjecting to the shame that was forced upon her, she grew above it, conveying a different aspect of the theme of guilt, which is redemption. This is not to say that Hester did not care about the sin she committed, as she is very much reminded of it every day of her life while living with the child of that sin. In fact, the author addresses this by saying, “In giving her existence a great law had been broken; and the result was a being whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder,” (Hawthorne 60). Hawthorne is implying how Pearl represents the outcome of a sin and arranged it so that Hester is always living with that sin, therefore, always being reminded of the shame she is supposed to
In The Scarlet Letter Hypocrisy is evident everywhere. The characters of Hester, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, and the very society that the characters lived in, were steeped in hypocrisy. Hawthorne was not subtle in his portrayal of the terrible sin of hypocrisy; he made sure it was easy to see the sin at work , at the same time however, parallels can be drawn between the characters of The Scarlet Letter and of today’s society.
The Scarlet Letter displays a theme of sin throughout the novel through multiple major events. To start off, in chapter seven, “The Governor’s Hall”, Hester observes herself in a convex shaped mirror, and realizes that the scarlet letter was exaggerated in size. The second major event is the entrance of Roger Chillingworth. He was quickly accepted into the Puritan society as an excellent physician, but as time passed, a few puritans started to suspect Chillingworth of using the skill of black art from the Indians. Hester also starts to realize a change, which goes into another major event to display the theme of sin. As Hester and Chillingworth were talking, she started to recognize a change in him, similar to a demon that had possessed him. But Hester wasn’t the only one to notice, Chillingworth noticed himself. In chapter nine and ten, Chillingworth is given the opportunity to cure Mr. Dimmesdale and to discover all of Dimmesdale’s hidden secrets. The final major event to represent sin is in chapter fifteen, “Hester and Pearl”, when Hester rids herself of the scarlet letter and realizes the freedom from the weight of her sin and shame. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses appearance versus reality to illustrate sin.