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The Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter Final Exam: Expressions of the Transcendentalists

Scarlet Letter Final Exam: Expressions of the Transcendentalists.
Victoria Clark Scarlet Letter Final Exam: Expressions of the Transcendentalists “Nobody knows this little Rose” by Emily Dickinson expresses how important a rose actually is to its environment and without the rose being of existence will affect the objects that are close to it. Dickinson goes onto say what is affected by the loss of the rose. Also in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne he emphasizes how when a situation alters that there is a different way of life that comes with it.
Emily Dickinson and Hawthorne use change within an entity to utilize how it can affect the things closest to it. Dickinson uses a rose to express herself,”Nobody knows this little Rose”, to convey how important the rose is be to its environment when it dies. Dickinson says,7 ‘“Only a bee will miss it”’ (Dickinson line 5), this means that when the rose should die that the bee will not have somewhere to land to reap the pollen from the rose. Hawthorne uses a black flower to emphasize what is growing upon Chillingworth’s heart. Hawthorne writes,”’ Let the black flower blossom as it may”’ (119).
The” black flower blossoming” is used to also indicate the evil growing upon Chillingworth’s heart and how it has an affect on the way Chillingworth’s deformity. The authors both use the colors red and black to create an image in the readers mind so that they understand what the colors red and black mean. The image that the red rose puts an image of love in some minds or how miserable the bee might be after the departure of the rose. The word usage that Hawthorne uses to describe the black rose gives the image of death, and the black flower that that was growing over Chillingworth’s heart would be the one that kills him.

Dickinson goes on to say “’ Only a Bird will wonder’”(Dickinson line 9), this line represents how if the bird uses the rose to indicate where food is, it will not be able to get food, and will wonder where the rose is and will have to find a new place to gather food. Hawthorne writes “’I will keep my secret, as I have this”’ (53). As Hester and Chillingworth are talking to each other about who her child, Pearl’s father actually is, Chillingworth tells her to keep their connection a secret, along with the secret his true identity.
Along with the other secrets, Hester makes a vow to herself that she will never tell anyone who Pearl’s father is. In addition, Hester keeping this secret throughout the book brings a burden upon her heart, as well as Dimmsdale’s. This colossal secret has makes Dimmsdale start to fast and beat himself with a scourge that is hidden in his closet. This change within Hester and Dimmsdale’s minds is affecting Pearl, Dimmsdale, Chillingworth and Hester’s lives. Dickinson and Hawthorne demonstrate how one minute secret or object’s can change from the life of something or someone that is very close to it.
Hawthorne says,”‘So speaking she undid the clasp that fastened the scarlet letter, and taking it from her bosom threw to a distance among the withered leaves’”(Hawthorne 138). As Pearl has gone off to play she dress herself up in leaves and makes a scarlet letter of her own and has placed it upon her bosom. While Dimmsdale and Hester discuss their lives, Hester has a sudden outburst of self-assurance and wants to give up the scarlet letter to be free from the bondage it has brought upon her and her relationship with her child, Pearl. Hawthorne goes on to say,”’ Pearl’, look down at thy feet!
There! – Before thee! – on the hither side of the brook! ’… Bring it hither! … Swallow it up for ever! ”’(144). With the scarlet letter being off of Hester’s bosom Pearl does not recognize who Hester is, she sees her as if she is a stranger because Hester has had the scarlet letter on her bosom since Pearl can remember. Pearl also thinks that the scarlet letter is a good thing and that it is beautiful- Pearl wants a scarlet letter of her own. With the Scarlet letter being off of heater’s Bosom Pearl cannot accept the change that her mother has made.
Dickinson says,”‘Only a Breeze will sigh”’(Dickinson line 10) along with the other vital thing that the rose needs to survive the rose is also having an affect on the breeze. The breeze does not have anything to bump against anymore since the rose is not in the spot it was in before when it blew by. Hawthorne and Dickinson use these examples to show that when something or someone is use to seeing or feeling something a certain way; that when it changes they may or may not recognize the difference that has occurred with , in this case, the rose being missing from the breeze’s path and the scarlet letter being gone from Hester’s bosom. Nobody knows this little Rose”, Emily Dickinson concludes her poem by saying, “ Ah Little Rose—how easy/ For such as thee to die! ” she understands that the rose meant a lot to the butterfly, bee, breeze ,and bird. She emphasized on how each and every thing was affected by the loss of something that was very dear to them. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the Scarlet Letter to call attention to how the Puritan society actually is.
He explains how hard it is for a woman who has committed adultery with a secret that she cant reveal until the right time, a reverend who also committed adultery who has to keep the secret of adultery on his heart and sees his adulteress get punished for something that he participated in, and a man who was the seed to the tree that grew within The Scarlet Letter see what it was like to, in actuality, get a taste of his own medicine. Hawthorne began this story with a deep, dark picture of a jail entrance.
He gave the reader a image of a gloomy, gray place and he saw it fit to put a rosebush into the story. Later on in the chapter you begin to understand the amazing significance of the rosebush next to the jail. He also dwells on how narrow-minded the puritans were, how they had different religious views. Public Punishment was also put into perspective when it came down to the crookedness of the Puritan society. Lastly, Hawthorne symbolized death and secrets to utilize spiritual breakthrough and mental freedom.
Nathaniel Hawthorne has taken me on a emotional and theatrical rollercoaster. Emily Dickinson took a simple rose and highlighted on how natures creatures are affected by an absence of a friend. At the beginning she used the tone of a person who is taking a stroll and picks up a rose and is admiring how beautiful the rose is. As Dickinson goes on she say that she took it from its ways. Which means that after picking the rose she begins to see how the environment around it stop in their tracks and in a sense mourn over the loss of the rose.
She also sees how the bee will miss it because of its sweet pollen that it needs to feed its family. Without the bee taking the pollen from the flower the bee cannot help produce for its family and new flowers when it goes to another flower. The Butterfly hastening from its far journey would usually lie down on the rose to rest but now the butterfly will have to lie itself upon another flower that it is not use to.
Finally, Dickinson used the breeze to give imagery and a sense of smell; to paint a picture on how the breeze would look brushing up against the rose if it were in its regular spot. Also gives off the sweet smell of the rose. In “Nobody knows this little Rose”, Emily Dickinson creates a beautiful story in a twelve line poem. From the beginning to end , she creates a full-course dinner with one recipe. Emily Dickinson started off by gathering the ingredients, to slicing and dicing, to mixing all the ingredients together and smelling the beautiful aroma , to finally serving p a stunning creation of a poem. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Emily Dickinson have many similarities in their technique of writing. By reading a piece of their work; I have come to realize that they are two very dynamic authors that bring so many things into prospective about life, death, self-awareness, love and hate, and they put all of their thoughts into one small novel or poem. Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Bantam, 1986. Print. Brooks, Kevin. The Road of the Dead. New York: Push, 2007. Print.

Scarlet Letter Final Exam: Expressions of the Transcendentalists

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The Scarlet Letter

The Meteor as a Symbol in the Scarlet Letter

The Meteor as a Symbol in the Scarlet Letter.
The Meteor that Dimmesdale sees in Chapter 12 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is an important symbol. As the minister watches the night sky, together with Hester and Pearl, a meteor appears that traces out an „A“. While most of the people think that the „A“ stands for „Angel“ and is showing that Governor Winthrop is gone and it marks his the entry to heaven, which will be proofed later on, but Dimmesdale, on the other hand, interprets it differently.
Him hiding his sins and „cover his heart with his hand“, the „A“ reminds him of Hester‘s Scarlet Letter. He thinks, it is a sign for him to wear the mark of shame too, so as Hester does. Seeing that God is trying to show his sins to the public, what he does not want, even through he is dying of that. The minister only will find peace by telling and confessing his sin and accepting it finally, to what he is not able to do until the end of the book.
This symbol shows us that there is more than one way to interpret things, like the Puritan way, who think of messages from God, typical warnings and bad things that will happen to them affecting their community. Dimmesdale only thinks about himself and the issue he has, he only interprets the meteor his way and no other, the symbol helped pushing him forward to finally built up the courage, he so badly needs to confess in front of the townspeople.

The Meteor as a Symbol in the Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter

The Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter

The Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter.
The Worst Sinner in The Scarlet Letter In The Scarlet Letter there are three main sinners presented to the reader. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth are all written with their own forms of sin, and each has a unique coping mechanism for their sins and guilt. Sin, at this time, was a hugely important part of daily life, and punishment for one’s sins was universally seen as not only a positive thing, but a necessary action to keep the people of the colony pure. Both Hester and Dimmesdale receive great punishments for their sin of adultry.
However, one character is portrayed as a true sinner, more so than the others. Roger Chillingworth is by far the worst sinner in The Scarlet Letter. This is made apparent by his many attempts to harm Dimmesdale mentally and spiritually, and more importantly his complete lack of remorse for his actions. It is this absence of guilt for his sin that shows that he is a sinner much worse than any other character in the book. Roger Chillingworth is Hester Prynne’s husband in the novel, though this is kept secret from the townspeople through the end of the book.
He, upon arriving and seeing his wife upon the scaffold, vows to take revenge on the man whom Hester committed her sin. Though he chooses to leave Hester to suffer the punishment given to her, his hatred towards her is never hidden. Chillingworth attaches himself to Dimmesdale upon seeing his grief, in hopes of discovering who the father of Hester’s child is. And once realizing it is Dimmesdale, Chillingworth proceeds to continually torment Dimmesdale as his personal revenge and punishment, to the point of making Dimmesdale ill even further beyond his original grief-stricken depleted health.

He does this with no regret or compassion towards the man he torments, nor any recognition for his actions as sinful. As the novel progresses, he takes on an almost evil nature, having no feelings whatsoever save for those of loathing towards Hester and Dimmesdale. Guilt is the thing left completely absent from Roger Chillingworth’s character, and it is this lack that defines him. (“Summary”) Biblically, guilt is defined in several ways. The Hebrew word asam is used biblically, and means both “guilt” and “guilt offering. The Bible says that asam is a part of debt unto one’s neighbor, which can be physical debt or, frequently, sins against others. This asam is a necessary part of sin, and in its absence is sin in itself. This is one of the largest pieces of evidence of Chillingworth’s sin, as he feels no guilt, nor gives any guilt offering unto those whom he has sinned against. Asam is a guilt which we must make amends for, which in Chillingworth’s case, no attempt to do so was made. “The legislation in Leviticus 5:14-6:7 and Numbers 5:5-10 makes this special quality of asam clear.
When someone incurs “guilt” toward a neighbor, full restitution must be made, plus an extra fifth. And then, in addition, a “guilt offering” must be made to the Lord, because when we sin against others and incur “indebtedness” to them, we violate the order that God prescribes for his world and his people, and have thus incurred a debt toward him also. ” (Motyer) Chillingworth’s sin is also worse than the others’ due simply to the nature of his sins. Adultery is a sin of passion, a lustful passion.
Though adultry is one of the biblical Ten Commandments (Bible), in the case of The Scarlet Letter it is a crime committed in a moment, and regretted thereafter by the two involved. Both Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale pay penance for their sin, in each their own form, from the day that it happens. Hester is pained with guilt for months, and once her child is visible she is imprisoned, and later forced to become a symbol of sin to the entire community for years to come, publicly putting her shame on display.
Dimmesdale is plagued by the same guilt as Hester, but because he is not discovered publicly is tormented spiritually and mentally. He begins to physically punish himself, and his regret and guilt weigh so heavily that they make his physically ill for years. Roger Chillingworth’s sin, however, was not in an instant. His was calculated, drawn out, and committed with malice towards both Dimmesdale and Hester for years on end.
He tormented Dimmesdale psychologically for years, and drained what little life Dimmesdale had in him out slowly and intentionally. He felt no guilt for these sins, nor was he ever punished for them in life. “Certainly, if the meteor kindled up the sky, and disclosed the earth, with an awfulness that admonished Hester Prynne and the clergyman of the day of judgment, then might Roger Chillingworth have passed with them for the arch-fiend, standing there, with a smile and scowl, to claim his own.
So vivid was the expression, or so intense the minister’s perception of it, that it seemed still to remain painted on the darkness, after the meteor had vanished, with an effect as if the street and all things else were at once annihilated” (Hawthorne. Chapter 12. ) This passage shows the reader the malevolent nature that Chillingworth begins to take on in the novel, seeming almost inhuman in his unwavering hatred for Dimmesdale, and the torture he inflicts upon him. Once again his lack of remorse is expressed plainly for the reader.
The themes of sin and revenge in The Scarlet Letter are made prominent and clear, as Hawthorne tends to express every theme in the novel. The two are closely tied together in the case of Roger Chillingworth. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne shows that at the time of the novel, sin was an extremely important role in everyday life, especially in a Puritan society such as the one in the novel. Sin is something that everyone believes must be punished, in this life if at all possible, as well as in the next.
In the case of old Roger Chillingworth, his sin was not punished in his worldly life, which leads us to believe that divine retribution in the next will be even greater for him than the book’s other sinners. The Black man is used in this book to mean the devil, and it is made clear that doing the bidding of the Black Man, or essentially doing things against God’s bidding, puts a mark on one’s soul that carries into the next life. (“Sin”) Here is where the concept ties into revenge.
This implied mark on the soul is expressed in the theme of revenge in the book. Roger Chillingworth, in his pursuit of revenge on Arthur Dimmesdale, receives a mark on his soul which twists him into a force of evil- a more serious effect than the sins of any other character in the book. Hawthorne expresses here both his own views, as well as the popular view of the time, that a sin committed out of the type of hatred which Chillingworth exhibits, is a tool of the devil, and in itself causes a change in humans into something more sinister.
It is this sentiment which is so clearly shown in Chillingworth’s increasingly hideous appearance, and the dehumanization of his character into an instrument solely of spiteful revenge. (“Revenge”) Throughout The Scarlet Letter, it is made abundantly clear what view the reader is intended to take of Roger Chillingworth. Consumed by his sin, he is permanently altered into an evil spirit for the acts of vengeance he has pursued. This condemnation Hawthorne describes expresses without a doubt to the reader that Chillingworth’s sin is far worse than that of the remorseful and solemn Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale.
Who, though sinned greatly and were punished, were in the end favored in the eyes of the Puritan community and quite possibly in the eyes of God as people who knew and repented their sins, and were therefore forgiven. It is clear that Roger Chillingworth is the only character deeply changed enough for the worse to be considered a sinner of any damning proportion, and is made out to be the worst sinner of any character in The Scarlet Letter. Work Cited: Nathaniel Hawthorne. , and DeMaiolo, James F.
The Scarlet Letter. New York: Applause, 1996. Print. Motyer, Stephen. “Guilt. ” BibleStudyTools. com. Salem Communications Corporations, 1997. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. “The Scarlet Letter Theme of Sin. ” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. , 2012. Web. 19 Nov. “The Scarlet Letter Theme of Revenge. ” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. , 2012. Web. 19 Nov. “The Scarlet Letter Summary. ” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. , 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. The Holy Bible. 2nd ed. New York: American Bible Society, 1992. Print.

The Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter

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Effects of Sin in the Scarlet Letter

Effects of Sin in the Scarlet Letter.
Unfortunately sin can often lead to isolation. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, a beautiful young woman who is chastised for adultery, and Arthur Dimmesdale, Boston’s beloved minister who is the father of Hester’s baby, both begin doleful lives of isolation after Hester’s sin is revealed. After Hester is sent to Boston by her husband, who says he will shortly join her, she has an affair with the town’s preacher, Arthur Dimmesdale, which results in a daughter, Pearl.
Condemned for her sin of adultery by the austere Puritan government, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her dress at all times as a punishment for her crime. Though Hester Prynne is a beautiful, graceful woman who is involved in the community, she begins a secluded life of isolation after she is punished for her crime of adultery. Serving as a visible sign of her crime, the scarlet letter A isolates Hester from her community. In addition, Hester encounters isolation when she is required to move to a dreary cabin on the outskirts of town.Furthermore, Hester is isolated from her one true love, Arthur Dimmesdale, when her husband, who goes by the alias Rodger Chillingworth, finally comes to Boston. On the other hand, Arthur Dimmesdale, who is an insouciant, healthy minister before his sin with Hester is punished, becomes paranoid, sickly, and isolated from the people of Boston as his guilt begins to overwhelm him. By neglecting to openly tell anyone about his sin with Hester, Dimmesdale isolates himself from the people.
He also isolates himself, this time from Hester, when he allows Chillingworth to move in with him to treat his illness. And he is isolated every time the people of Boston praise his as a marvelous preacher when he knows he is not worthy of such veneration. Although Hester Prynne is a pulchritudinous, statuesque woman who is an active participant in the community, she begins a lonely life of solitude after she is punished for her crime of adultery. Forced to wear the letter A on her garments, Hester is isolated from the community of Boston. ¬¬¬The people in Boston see this letter as a sign of shame; therefore, they refuse to associate themselves with her. Gossiping about Hester, the townspeople say that Hester got off too easy with public humiliation as her only form of punishment. Since they live in a strict Puritan society obsessed with sin, they believe that Hester should’ve been killed for her crime even though there was a very likely chance that her husband was dead.

This resentment to Hester’s crime leaves her all alone without any friends, her husband, or her lover.As Hawthorne writes, “Tomorrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next; each day its own trial, and yet the very same that was now so unutterably grievous to be borne… she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point” (74-75), we see the endless cycle of isolation in Hester’s future. Neither the austere Puritan citizens nor the hypocritical Puritan government officials are willing to forgive her and move on, so Hester has no one to turn to.Furthermore, Hester is isolated when she is forced to live on the outskirts of town in a desolate, abandoned cabin. Continuing her charitable works and her skills as a seamstress, Hester runs a small sewing business to support herself. Hester’s skill as a seamstress can be seen when she steps onto the scaffold for the first time with the letter A on her dress that was “so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore” (50).But when Hester goes into town to deliver her clothing, she is painfully reminded of how isolated she is from her community.
Even the children, who are too young to understand her situation, shun her when she comes into town. Yelling, “Behold, verily there is the woman of the scarlet letter, and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side! Come, therefore, and let us fling mud at them! ” (96), the children of the town show no common courtesy towards Hester.Ignoring her charitable acts and attempts to regain her acceptance in society, the townspeople prove to be unyielding, unforgiving hypocrites. Though Hester has sinned, it is still wrong for her community to treat her poorly and scorn her whenever she tries to go into town. These Puritans claim they are holy and following Christ, yet they fail to abide by the golden rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. And Hester is even more isolated, this time from Dimmesdale, when Chillingworth comes to Boston.Even though Chillingworth is her husband, they have never really loved each other, so this separation from Dimmesdale is far more difficult for Hester than her separation from her husband when she was sent to Boston alone.
After Hester affirms to Chillingworth that she will never tell him the name of her lover, he responds, “Never, sayest thou? Never know him! Believe me Hester, there are few things hidden from the man who devotes himself earnestly and unreservedly to the solution of a mystery.I shall seek this man as I have sought truth in books, as I have sought truth in alchemy” (71-72). Knowing that her husband will try to harm Dimmesdale if he finds out that he is the one whom Hester had an affair with, Hester isolates herself from Dimmesdale to protect him from Chillingworth. On the other hand, while Arthur Dimmesdale is a relaxed, hearty minister before Hester is punished for her crime, he becomes paranoid, ailing, and isolated from the people of Boston as his guilt begins to overpower him.The longer Dimmesdale conceals his guilt about his affair with Hester, the more erratic he becomes. Not wanting to confess, Dimmesdale torments his body to try to overcome his grief. Regularly holding vigils, whipping himself, and even carving an A onto his chest, Dimmesdale emotionally isolates himself.
Another example of Dimmesdale’s insane behavior caused by guilt can be seen when he stands upon the scaffold alone one night. As Hawthorne writes, “And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr.Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart” (139), we see the extent of the guilt Dimmesdale feels. By hiding his guilt from everyone, he has become overly suspicious and lunatic, but since he isolates himself, no one knows this. Also Dimmesdale is isolated from Hester when he falls ill and Chillingworth moves in to take care of him. Chillingworth promises to find the man whom Hester had relations with; furthermore, it is no surprise that he seeks to live with Dimmesdale since he is an influential, well-liked, and trusted man in Boston.A rumor “that Heaven had wrought an absolute miracle by transporting an eminent Doctor of Physic from a German university bodily through the air and setting him down at the door of Mr.
Dimmesdale’s study” (114) took hold in Boston and although Dimmesdale tries to deny Chillingworth’s aid, the town elders force him to allow Chillingworth to move in. Being constantly watched by Chillingworth, Dimmesdale cannot easily try to visit Hester since that would make Chillingworth very suspicious of him. Having to hide major secrets from someone living with im, Dimmesdale feels more alone than ever and increases his physical torments. As Dimmesdale’s torturous attempts to cure his guilt prove to be ineffective, we see how much his guilt is eating away at him. He thinks that by physically hurting himself he can forget about his immense mental pain, but this only intensifies it. The more pain he feels the more distant he becomes from his community. On the same note, Chillingworth feels isolated when the people of Boston praise him as an amazing preacher.
As Dimmesdale feels guiltier and guiltier, his sermons regarding sin become more and more powerful. Calling himself a sinner, Dimmesdale tries to clandestinely admit to his guilt, but the people, who cannot believe that such a well-liked minister like Dimmesdale would be a sinner, interpret this as a metaphor. As he is praised for his inspirational sermons, he feels more and more isolated because he knows he is not worthy of such praise. Hawthorne sums up Dimmesdale’s feelings by saying, “It is inconceivable, the agony with which this public veneration tortured him! (134); however, his preachments get even better the more this veneration tortures him. Hester and Dimmesdale prove how two people on opposite ends of the spectrum can both lead lives of isolation caused by sin. While Hester openly admits to her sin, Dimmesdale conceals his sin, which only harms him in the long run. Even though Hester’s reputation has been tainted and people see her in a whole new way, she is still true to herself unlike Dimmesdale, who puts forth the fake image of an honorable minister.
Puritan society condemns sinners, yet in this theocratic state, everyone hides their sins to protect their reputation; however, this is far worse than simply accepting the punishment and trying to gain your good reputation back through good works. By accepting her sin as part of whom she is, Hester proves herself to be the bigger person even though Dimmesdale is the minister because she accepts her sin leading to her physical isolation from the community and Dimmesdale while Dimmesdale keeps to himself which causes him both physical and mental pain which spiritually isolates him from his people.

Effects of Sin in the Scarlet Letter

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The Significance of the Three Scaffold Scenes in the Scarlet Letter

The Significance of the Three Scaffold Scenes in the Scarlet Letter.
The scaffold played an important part in identifying the characters of the Scarlet Letter throughout the novel. At each scene, the reader comes to understand something of the main characters and glimpses how that sin represented by the scarlet “A” has affected them.
Hester Prynne, clutching both the living and the imposed () of her sin to her breast, is seen atop the scaffold, sternly looked on by all, but without her lover.She stood there in quiet defiance, refusing to reveal to the multitude before her who the father of her child was, and in this the reader sees a picture of a woman scorned and fearing for the life of herself and her child, but bearing the scrutiny of all with a calm defiance. Nearby, stood Arthur Dimmesdale, asking his secret lover to reveal the name of the father of that child. He did not, at that time, have the strength or the will to do so himself, and was begging Hester to reveal him for what he was.Among the crowd, Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s wronged husband, adds his voice to the multitude in demanding that Hester reveal her secret. He seems an old, disappointed man, finding that the one he had waited three years to join had, during that time, left him for another. Thereafter, he would pledge to avenge himself of the man that had partnered in wronging him.
Late one night, Dimmesdale could have been seen on the scaffold, looking for some peace from the guilt tormenting his mind.His penitence, however, lacked an audience. Here, the reader sees a nearly mad man, too weak to reveal himself for what he really was, but too pious to otherwise ignore it. Hester and Pearl discover him there and join him, acknowledging the bond between the three before none other than themselves. Hester comes to realize the poor state in which Dimmesdale has borne his guilt, and resolves to lend him her strength, which has served to uphold her throughout the years of her public shame.Pearl questions the minister as to whether he would stand with them there noon the next day, but he refuses. Chillingworth discovers the trio atop the scaffold, and any suspicions he harbored of the identity of Pearl’s father is all but confirmed.

Finally, again atop the scaffold, Hester again stands before the scrutiny of the town of Boston, but this time with her fellow sinner. Dimmesdale confesses before all his part in Hester’s sin in a final show of strength. There, the minister dies, along with Hester’s dreams of throwing of her public shame.Before his death, however, Pearl acknowledges him as her father with a final kiss and gains her humanity in the sight of the townspeople. His prey having escaped him and lacking another purpose for which to live, Chillingworth shrivels and dies, a mere shell of the man he once was. In each of those scenes revolving around the scaffold, Nathaniel Hawthorne revealed to the reader the state and mentality of the main characters, along with the effects of guilt, bitter revenge, and an attempt at human penitence rather than repentance.

The Significance of the Three Scaffold Scenes in the Scarlet Letter

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Scarlet Letter- Grey

Scarlet Letter- Grey.
Scarlet Letter Assignment Topic: Gray Part I- Cite six times in the book where your topic appears and analyze how those instances relate to the meaning of the work as a whole. 1. “A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray” (33). The color gray adds to the atmosphere of the day, the day of judgment for Hester. The people of this Puritan town are close-minded and dull, all represented by the color grey. 2. She bore in her arms a child, a baby if some three months old, who winked and turned aside its little face from the two vivid light of day; because its existence, therefore, had brought it acquainted only with the gray twilight of dungeon, or other darksome apartment if the prison” (36) When in the dungeon Hester spoke to no one and would not admit to anything, because she concealed her secrets. The color gray connotes secrets and hiding. Once Hester and Pearl depart from the prison for the first time the gray of the dungeon disappears and the secrets can now be found out—this admission being a major plot in the novel.
This is the moment when the secrets break free and begin to unfold. 3. “Standing on that miserable eminence, she saw again her native village, in Old England, and her paternal home: a decayed house of grey stone, with a poverty-stricken aspect, but retaining a half obliterated shield of arms over the portal, in token of antique gentility” (40). When leaving the jail, Hester gazed at her hometown. However, she was not filled with nostalgia or wistfulness. Rather, she looked out and saw her family’s poverty stricken house, though it was noticeable that it was once of high nobility.
Those who were once elite and considered noble people are now in poverty and being trialed for murder. Grey connotes this transition. It is dull, boring, and is not red, blue, and purple, which are the colors that aristocrats wore at that time. When leaving the jail Hester realizes that everything has turned to grey—life will not be as luxurious and she will be repudiated by society because of her sins. 4. “The wide circumference of an elaborate ruff, beneath his grey beard, in the antiquated fashion of King James’s reign, caused his head to look not a little like that of John the Baptist in a charger” (74)

This description of Governor Bellingham is to show how he is esteemed and of high class in Puritan society. Puritans desire to live like their ancestors; no room for change at all. Governor Bellingham is illustrated in the novel and is compared to those living in King James’ time. To the Puritans this is positive, this dullness and inability to change their ways: it is the way of life. But to others, like Hester it is a negative aspect of the society. The color gray is therefore used in this context to highlight this. The Puritan society is gray, devoid of color and excitement.
In today’s day, a black-and-white movie suggests that it is old and outdated. So too here, adding the fact that Governor Bellingham’s beard is gray is to elucidate Hester’s opinion that the society is and should be obsolete. 5. “An unwearied pall of cloud muffled the whole expanse of sky from zenith to horizon. If the same multitude which had stood as eye-witnesses while Hester Prynne sustained her punishment could now have been summoned forth, they would have discerned no face above the platform nor hardly the outline of a human shape, in the dark grey of the midnight” (101).
The use of grey in this instance defines the mood Nathaniel Hawthorne is attempting to portray. Dimmesdale mounts the scaffold and screams out, confessing his sin. It is in the depths of the night and is dark, somber reflecting Dimmesdale’s desire of penitence for his sin. He wishes to be found out and for his guilt to be palliated. 6. “Mr. Dimmesdale throughout the long hereafter. But as he came down the pulpit steps, the grey-bearded sexton met him, holding up a black glove, which the minister recognized as his own” (108).
The day after Dimmesdale’s profession of his sin in the midst of the night, the church sexton comes over to Dimmesdale and hands him his black glove that was found on the scaffold. The sexton decides that it was Satan’s doing and not that of Dimmesdale. Everything around Dimmesdale suddenly begins to turn gray. He sees everything as gray—full of sin and darkness void of life and purity. Part II- Explain how your topic sheds light on at least one character’s development in the novel Grey symbolizes many different ideas in the novel, The Scarlet Letter. However, a main theme of the color gray is that of darkness and the presence of sin.
Throughout the novel, Dimmesdale’s status and health slowly deteriorate and the color gray helps track this decline. At first the society is looked at as gray, boring, and dull in the eyes of Hester. Dimmesdale was a prize pastor giving the best sermons. However, once Hester is reestablished in society, Dimmesdale’s guilt begins to take over. Especially after he and Hester talk about leaving the town by ship, his shame gets the best of him. He ascends the scaffold hoping someone will hear him confess his sins, but everyone thinks it is a witch. Everyone and everything around him appears gray, all reminding him of his sin.
Dimmesdale even gives a sermon in which he reveals that he too has sinned, so as to alleviate some of his guilty conscience, but it makes the people like and revere him even more. At last he cannot take it and he mounts the scaffold, Hester and Pearl in hand, confessing his sins to all and dying there as Pearl kisses him. The guilt was too much for him and finally the pain is gone for Dimmesdale. Part III- Choose three biographical facts about Nathaniel Hawthorne and/or historical facts about the time period, and explain how the facts add to your understanding of the overall book 1.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ancestor, John Hathorne, originated in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was a judge in the Salem witch trials. Hawthorne was fascinated by his kinship to John Hathorne and inspired several of his novels. This was a great inspiration for The Scarlet Letter, as witchcraft, sin, and Puritan society are all main themes of this novel. 2. Nathaniel’s father died when he was at an early age. This was therefore the inspiration for Hester being a single mother in the novel. He felt the same way that Pearl did and at the same time empathized with Hester because he watched his mother go through the same thing. . One important influence on The Scarlet Letter is money. Hawthorne never made much money as an author and the birth of his first daughter just added to the financial burden. He received a job at the Salem Custom House, but lost it three years later and was forced to return to writing to support his family. Consequently, The Scarlet Letter was published a year after being fired by his job in the Salem Custom House. At first, the work was only intended to be a long short story, but the extra money a novel would bring in was needed to support his growing family.

Scarlet Letter- Grey

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The Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter Analysis

Scarlet Letter Analysis.
Kelsey Federspill Scarlet Letter Literary Analysis R5 12. 2. 12 Over Coming Guilt Remorse is a feeling experienced after committing an act that produces a sense of guilt. A life lesson can be learned in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, about the theme of guilt. Everyone experiences guilt when they commit a sin or human frailty but the way one handles the feelings of guilt is different.
Guilt is expressed in three main ways: ignoring or hiding the sin and letting the guilt build up on the inside, blaming others for the sin and wanting revenge for the way the person feels, and embracing the sin committed and not releasing the guilt. The different ways guilt is experienced determines the way it is punished: by others or no one at all. But punishment for the sin doesn’t always affect the amount of guilt felt by one. Hawthorne uses symbolism and irony to demonstrate that guilt should not take over one’s life, rather it should be a lesson learned of embracement, forgiveness, and acceptance.
In The Scarlet Letter, the character Hester Prynne is well known for the scarlet letter that she was forced to wear. Prynne embraced the punishment of the scarlet letter and used the punishment in a unique way, “On the breast of her gown in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A” (37). The letter ‘A’ represented the sin of adultery that Prynne had committed.

The community choose this form of punishment for Prynne to make her feel guilty for the act of adultery she committed and used it as an example to the rest of the community. As Prynne egresses from prison Hawthorne describes the scene, “the scene was not without a mixture of awe, such as must always invest the spectacle of guilt and shame in a fellow-creature” (39). Prynne chooses to embrace the scarlet letter rather than let the feeling of guilt take over her life because she desired to set a good example for her daughter, Pearl.
She was able to embrace her sin and the scarlet letter because she was working to set an example for her daughter. It was ironic how the community tried to force guilt on to Prynne, but in return she embraced the punishment in full stride and even used it to purify herself, “Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt, and her should be the scene of her punishment; and so, perchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul, and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more saint-like, because the result of martyrdom” (55).
When the town people saw Prynne as she exited the prison, people said, “thus she will be a living sermon against sin” (44). The town people would always be reminded of her sin. Prynne did not let the guilt of her sin produce a major impact on her life. Rather she accepted her transgression and learned the importance of not letting her past mistakes and guilt negatively affect her future. Rosebushes are full of beauty but pain can be inflicted on someone who tries to hold it due to the rosebush’s sharp thorns.
When Hawthorne depicts the town he describes the rosebush on the side of the prison, “but, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of nature could pity and be kind to him” (33). The rosebush symbolizes forgiveness from guilt throughout The Scarlet Letter.
Pearl, Prynne’s daughter, was visiting the governor’s hall with her mother one day to deliver a pair of embroider gloves Prynne had made. While at the governor’s house, Pearl saw a rosebush and reacted in an unusual way, “Pearl, seeing the rosebushes, began to cry for a red rose, and would not be pacified,” (73). Pearl responded with this meltdown because she wanted forgiveness for her mother and for her father, Reverend Dimmesdale, to be accepted by the community. Pearl felt guilty but blamed it on others. She was seeking revenge on the townspeople for the way they made her mother feel.
The irony of the rosebush is how it hurt Prynne, Pearl, and Dimmesdale, like the thorns on a rosebush when touched. In the end the family moved out of their community attempting to not let the mistakes of the past take over their present lives. Ultimately, they choose a fresh start. Pearl was a product of Prynne’s sin of adultery. Pearl’s birth was very humiliating for Prynne; nevertheless Pearl still meant the world to Prynne. Pearl’s name even has significance, “but she names the infant ‘Pearl,’ as being of great price,– purchased with all she had,– her mother’s only treasure” (61).
The biblical allusion to the pearl is referred to in Matthew 13 about a parable of a man who gave up everything for a pearl of great price. Prynne gave up everything she had for her daughter. She even dresses Pearl in the best clothes, while she dresses very poorly. To Prynne, Pearl was a symbol of strength and overcoming obstacles. Prynne said, “I can teach my little Pearl what I have learned from this [the scarlet letter],” (76). Prynne is a great example and life lesson to Pearl of how to accept the mistakes made in the past and not let the shame define oneself. Prynne uses Pearl to show how tough a young child can be.
On the other hand, the town viewed Pearl as the devil child: evil. The town discussed Pearl as, “an imp of evil, emblem and product of sin,” (64) and, “poor little Pearl was a demon offspring,” (68). Pearl herself is truly a symbol of ignorance and hope. Hawthorne described an occurrence of Pearl talking to Mr. Wilson, a pastor, “after putting her finger in her mouth, with many ungracious refusals to answer good Mr. Wilson’s question, the child finally announced that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked by her mother off the rosebush of wild roses, that grew by the prison,” (76).
Pearl believed she was created for good and had an optimistic attitude on life. She did not let guilt become an emotion known in her. Pearl did not let the past effect her future. In conclusion, life lessons were learned about embracement, forgiveness, and acceptance from guilt with the use of symbolism and irony from Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter. The different ways guilt can be handled was demonstrated in The Scarlet Letter, but not letting guilt take over one’s life was key. Moving on and learning from a sin or human frailty is significant and something everyone can learn from.

Scarlet Letter Analysis

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The Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Writers of literature, especially those in the genre of stories, used different types of themes and symbolisms to represent an idea and concept that is not directly mentioned by the writer. Most themes especially about life, human nature and society are implied rather than explicitly stated. It’s the writer’s choice if he or she would want to use figures, objects or characters to illustrate an abstract idea to create various realizations on the part of the readers. The aesthetics of literature depends on how the writer seamlessly and creatively associates symbolisms to the themes of the story.
In the story Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, he used the title as a symbol itself, the characters, and the Biblical allusions as a point of comparison to the consequences of sins happened in the story. The Scarlet letter is used as a significant symbolism of shame that often identify the main protagonist, Hester. The “letter” word in the story functions as the reminder of her sin. Hester’s adultery receives harsh judgment and retaliation from the self righteous Puritan community. Her sin excludes her in the society or in a pattern known as unity versus exclusion in literature.
Hester single mistake in the past made her an outcast who automatically separated her from ordinary social interaction. In the beginning of the story in the episode of the marketplace, the “scarlet letter” “was so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of the spell, taking her out in the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself” (Robinson 104). Here, Hawthorne already revealed how the scarlet letter symbolizes Hester’s authenticity as a character and fate.

The letter becomes “the object of severe and universal observation” in the Puritan community (Robinson 114). Moreover, Hester’s presence in the “crowd had been of such deep social interest” not because of her as a character but because of what the scarlet letter says about her past (Robinson 138). The Scarlet Letter symbolizes the community’s system of judgment and punishment that greatly used symbols and externals to question one’s morality. The scarlet letter in the story is a figurative thing intended to represent sin and a mark of shame.
This figurative object went to her after the adultery she committed with Dimmesdale. The setting of the story belonged to a Puritan community who strictly follows the standard of morality. Hester’s adultery from this kind of society received harsh judgment and retaliation from the Puritan community. Despite the painful judgment, Hester chose to stay in the community because running away would be an acknowledgment of society’s power over her. Scarlet Letter embodies Hester’s identity that was determined to create her own individuality rather than allowing others to determine it for her.
She chose not to conform to the society’s rules and standard. She knows deep inside that she is more than her sins. Her sins were all part of her but the journey of life still continues. Scarlet Letter illustrates Hester’s acceptance of her sins. She admitted though that the letter is a mark of shame but removing the letter or running away would be an acknowledgment of society’s power over her. Hester was a symbol for hope, restoration and transformation. The judgmental community unconsciously transformed and challenged her character to be compassionate and capable woman.
Her pains made humble. Her innate good nature was fully expressed from her challenging yet sorrowful faith. The scarlet letter as a symbolism is all in connection to the twists and turns of the story as well as to the character. Pearl, Hester’s daughter also noticed that, her mother wear a scarlet letter among all the grown up women in the community. “Mother”, said the little Pearl, “the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom… It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet! “Nor ever will my child, I hope”, said Hester. “And why not mother? ” asked Pearl, stopping short… “Will it not come of its accord, when I am a grown woman? ” (Robinson). In this conversation, it highlights the reality that the scarlet letter is intended to represent sin and Pearl as a child doesn’t fully comprehend her mother’s peculiar situation. Pearl’s innocent and pointed questions create suspense since it makes the characters feel uncomfortable. Moreover her character illustrates perception and honesty that separates her from the corrupt minds of the adulthood.
Pearl’s innocent questions motivated those people around her to think and to reflect on the truths that are often overlooked. Pearl herself is the embodiment of the scarlet letter and Hester accordingly clothes her in a “beautiful dress of scarlet, embroidered with gold thread, just like the scarlet letter upon Hester’s bosom” (Robinson). Pearl illegitimacy in the story and as a product of sin mysteriously takes the consequences of her parents’ guilt. The story of the “The Scarlet Letter” can be compared to some of the stories mentioned in the Old Testament.
The plot depicting the extreme portrayal of Puritanism can be compared to the way old people from the Bible regard shame, rules and order. Just like Adam and Eve, Hester and Dimmesdale’s sins particularly adultery separated them from the divine and community (the way Puritan community perceives it). Sins excluded and alienated them in the society. Dimmesdale and Hester’s state of sinfulness led them to personal growth, sympathy and speculation about human nature and larger moral questions.
At the end, the inner wisdom that Hester accumulated from the judgmental community greatly benefited her character and sense of individuality. The scarlet letter for Hester according to Nathaniel Hawthorne in one of his interviews after the creation of this wonderful story “was her passport into regions where other women dared not to tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers—stern and wild ones—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss”. Though the setting happened during Puritan community but the themes are timeless- judgmental society, personal responsibility and unconformity.

Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter

Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter.
People are not always what they seem to be. Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter shows that everyone sins but some people’s sins are worse than others. The Scarlet Letter shows Chillingworth’s sins throughout the book. One of Hawthorne’s intentions was having Chillingworth as the worst sinner, because he used his herbs to keep Dimmesdale alive-he prolonged Dimmesdale’s torture, he used “black medicine”, and when Dimmesdale stopped taking the herbs, he passed away. Roger Chillingworth came to town with the Indians, and Hawthorne described them as outcasts and dwellers of the forest.
Roger had learned all his tricks and medicines from the Indians and therefore was able to prolong Dimmesdale’s torture through using herbs. Chillingworth says, “Don’t think that I will lay a finger on him and interfere with Heaven’s work of punishment… let him live. ” Chillingworth never physically laid a hand on Dimmesdale, but he kept him healthy using the herbs to make sure that Dimmesdale would endure the torture of his affair, mentally and physically. Chillingworth knew exactly what he was doing to Dimmesdale.
He said it would have been better had he died right away than endure seven years of vengeance. Here Roger is admitting that he has spent the last seven years using his herbs to keep Dimmesdale alive because death would be too easy. Roger Chillingworth was described as giving “black medicine” to Dimmesdale. Him using this was a way to punish Dimmesdale for wronging him. The term “black medicine” is in correlation with the devil, as if Chillingworth is acting as Satan to get back at Dimmesdale.

While talking with Dimmesdale he says, “Wherefore not; since all the powers of nature call so earnestly for the confession of sin, that these black weeds have sprung up out of a buried heart, to make manifest an unspoken crime? ” Here, Chillingworth is expressing his use of the “black medicine”. What he is using are weeds he found at the cemetery, and he is explaining them as nature’s punishment for people who have committed hidden crimes. Chillingworth is hinting that the medicine he is giving Dimmesdale is nature’s way of making sure Dimmesdale is getting the punishment he deserves.
Roger’s sin here is that he is one with the devil and carrying out actions only the devil would use through the “black medicine”. Once he stopped partaking the herbs given by Chillingworth, unfortunately, Dimmesdale died. This is proof Chillingworth used the herbs to stall Dimmesdale’s untimely death. At their home, Chillingworth offered Dimmesdale medicine. “But methinks, dear Sir, you look pale; as if the travel through the wilderness had been too sore for you. Will not my aid be requisite to put you in heart and strength to preach your Election Sermon? Dimmesdale passed on the medicine, knowing Chillingworth’s intentions. Chillingworth was described as being a “leech” and feed off of Dimmesdale’s pain, but when he collapsed and died on the scaffold the next day, he had nothing left to live for and died soon after. It is not a coincidence that Dimmesdale died so soon after being clean of herbs. Death was not a part of Chillingworth’s plan, and Dimmesdale was able to escape Chillingworth’s torture by stopping his medications and dying. Roger Chillingworth is the worst sinner in The Scarlet Letter.
He prolonged Dimmesdale’s torture through herbs and was one with the devil. Roger Chillingworth never laid a hand on Dimmesdale throughout the book but he mentally got to him over the seven years. The herbs kept Dimmesdale alive just so Roger could get his revenge through the torture. When Dimmesdale passed away after stopping the herbs Roger Chillingworth had nothing left to live for, and died shortly after, because as the “leech”, he no longer had anything to feed off of. Roger Chillingworth was not always the man that he seemed, he had something deeper in him and was the worst sinner.

Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter essay: Why was Dimmesdale’s Suffering Worse Than Hester’s?

The Scarlet Letter essay: Why was Dimmesdale’s Suffering Worse Than Hester’s?.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Mr. Dimmesdale’s greatest secret is his sin of adultery with Hester Prynne. Mr. Dimmesdale feared that his soul could not bear the shame of such a disclosure because of his status as an important moral figure in society. As a result, he keeps his identity a secret as Hester is publicly ridiculed for their act of adultery.
Despite his choice of guilt over shame, Mr. Dimmesdale’s private self-inflicted inner turmoil that is exacerbated by the tortures of Roger Chillingworth, ate away at his physical being and mental state, causing much greater suffering than Hester’s public shame of the scarlet letter. Much of the suffering, physical and mental, that Arthur Dimmesdale endures is self-inflicted due to the immense weight of his guilty conscience. Fearing that he would not be able to bear the punishment from the public, he chose to remain anonymous in his sins. In doing so, he underestimated the amount of psychological torture and suffering he would endure by his own hand.
By only confessing to himself, he does not fulfill the requirements of repentance, for there is no one to forgive him but himself. He does not allow his conscience to be cleansed, and therefore must live with his sins. His emotional pain leads him to inflict pain with a “bloody scourge”, which he had often “plied on his own shoulders”(99). He inflicts great physical pain in addition to his mental torture. In the early Christian church, self-flagellation was imposed as a means of penance and purification for disobedient clergy and laity.

In the bible, Proverbs relates that blows “cleanse away evil” and stripes wash the heart (Prov 20:30). He is trying to redeem and cleanse himself without confession, but this is impossible. Through this self-mutilation, he attempts to relieve his mental pain by inflicting self pain; he find this unsatisfying because he still neglects to partake in the most important aspect of redemption, confession. He also rigorously fasts, as another attempt to cleanse his soul. Hawthorne writes, “it was his custom, too, as it has been that of many other pious Puritans, to fast, – not, however, like them…
But rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance”(99). Religiously, fasting is commonly used as a form of purification and focus on spirituality. Once again, he uses bodily pain as an attempt to relieve his mental suffering. By participating in this unsuccessful cleansing, he only subjects himself to greater psychological torture; what he studied and knew to be a cure of guilt and sin only amplifies his own. The situation becomes hopeless when his ways fail him, and this eats away at his religious beliefs, which are the basis of his entire life.
He faces an entire identity crisis, and this is something Hester never had to endure. Yes, she withstood her own share of loneliness and suffering, but never to the extreme where she turned to self-mutilation to relieve herself. He attempts to redeem his tarnished soul through various acts of contrition, but all is in vain because it is all done without a confession. His torture is all within himself; he is his own shunning, gossiping townspeople and his own rock-flinging children. There is nowhere for him to hide.
He is fully absorbed by his sins and they eat away at him. Hester, who’s publicly tortured by others while in town, though it might be equally as hurtful at that time, is still lesser than Dimmesdale’s suufering. Hester has an escape route. She has the refuge of her home outside of town, where she can get away from the gossip and scorn. She also publicly embraces her accountability in the affair, which allows her to accept the punishment, move on, and make something good out of it. Hester becomes a maternal figure for the community as a result of her experiences.
She cares for the poor and brings them food and clothing. By the end of the novel, the shame of the scarlet letter is long gone. She doesn’t owe anything to the townspeople anymore. Some even forget what the scarlet A stands for. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, as a well-respected minister, stands at the center of his community, being the advocate of religious and moral standards of that Puritan society. He must remain in town, outwardly preaching to others about piety and remaining sinless, and internally feeling like an imposter.
Dimmesdale realizes his fault in hiding his sin, but his desire to repent is repeatedly overcome by his craving for public approval. He is their moral compass, yet he himself is lost. This drives Dimmesdale to further internalize his guilt and self-punishment and leads to still more deterioration in his physical and spiritual condition. Because of Dimmesdale’s decision to remain anonymous, he unconsciously creates a duality in personality within himself that results in the deterioration of his mental well-being.
Dimmesdale, as the revered town minister, must keep up this dichotomy in personality; he is constantly praised for his goodness and asked for moral and spiritual advice, while he is tumultuous inside. Hester is free to be whom she pleases. The townspeople do not believe Dimmesdale’s protestations of sinfulness. Given his background and his fondness for rhetorical speech, Dimmesdale’s congregation generally interprets his sermons metaphorically rather than as expressions of any personal guilt.
He plays the literal meaning of his words off against the context in which he speaks them. Dimmesdale’s tone of voice, his position as minister, his reputation as a saintly man, and the genre of the sermon allow him to say, “I am the greatest sinner among you,” but be understood to be humble, pious, and godly. His inner self is desperately trying to confess, but his self concerned with public appearance only allows him to do it in a way that he wont be taken literally. He is essentially at war with himself.
By remaining secret, Dimmesdale doomed himself to much greater suffering than if he were to be publicly condemned with Hester because he subjected himself to years of self-torture and an unyielding quest for unobtainable repentance. The role of Roger Chillingsworth in Dimmesdale’s torture amplifies the pain of the sin, causing much greater suffering than Hester who only interacted with the doctor on sparse occasions. As his name suggests, Roger Chillingworth is a man deficient of human warmth. His twisted, stooped, deformed shoulders mirror his distorted soul.
Under the guise of a new doctor in town with wholesome intentions towards the young minister and his health, Chillingsworth gains his trust and they move in together forming very peculiar codependent relationship. Chillingworth needs Dimmesdale to nourish his intellect and to be the object of his obsessive desire that he can control and ultimately destroy; Dimmesdale needs Chillingworth to keep his guilt alive, the constant provoking from the doctor for Dimmesdale to reveal his inner sin forces Dimmesdale to be constantly reminded of his transgressions. Chillingworth is like a leech. He sucks Mr.
Dimmesdale’s life force out of sick need for reparation for Dimmesdale’s actions against him. Dimmesdale is subconsciously aware of his dependence of Chillingworth, for he cannot and does not break away. Their relationship is described in this quote, “Nevertheless, time went on; a kind of intimacy, as we have said, grew up between these two cultivated minds, which had as wide a field as the whole sphere of human thought and study to meet upon; they discussed every topic of ethics and religion, of public affairs, and private character; they talked much, on both sides, of matters that seemed personal to themselves..”(P#).
Chillingworth lived and thrived off the pain and guilt he constantly inflicted on Dimmesdale, and in a twisted way Dimmesdale relied on this psychological torture to further his self-inflicted search for forgiveness. The role of Roger Chillingsworth in Dimmesdale’s torture intensifies Dimmesdale’s suffering, causing Dimmesdale to endure vastly more than Hester who was able to avoid the evil doctor. Some argue that it was Hester who suffered the most throughout the novel. They say that because of her crime Hester became secluded from the other people in her society.
They exemplify this with the quote, “Who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impress as if they beheld her for the first time was the Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself. “(61). She became lonely, and the scarlet letter was a burden that Hester had to carry everyday of her life, and the symbol, which secluded her from any other human being.
It caused Hester to be ostracized, but Dimmesdale’s cowardice in not confessing lead ultimately, to his death. Hester had a horrible punishment: she had to wear a scarlet letter for the rest of her life. But Dimmesdale’s internal struggle with his own cowardice and guilt was far worse than a scarlet letter. He suffered the most as he constantly punished himself for his sin. Although Hester suffered the public punishment she dealt with it well and took it in stride, ultimately creating a positive role for herself in the community and transforming the meaning of the scarlet letter.
She was able to make amends and in time through good deeds, change the meaning of the scarlet letter from “adulteress” to “able”. Dimmesdale on the other hand, has to always bear their sin inside of him never allowing it to become public. He was never given the opportunity to make peace with himself. Instead of taking his penance publicly he does it privately. He was forced to continue to bear his private shame, while Hester was able to make peace with herself because she was strong enough to take her punishment, and grow despite of it.
Suffering is commonly seen as an unconscious effort to ease painful feelings of guilt. Arthur Dimmesdale’s choice of guilt over shame led him to experience a great deal of physical and emotional suffering. Hester admitted to her sin and had a clear conscience, which allowed her to move on with her life and grow as a person. Mr. Dimmesdale’s choice of anonymity in not confessing his wrongdoing to the public, led to his suffering through the guilt of his sin, a pain that was only aggravated by the tortures of Roger Chillingworth, and ultimately resulted in his painful and tragic death.

The Scarlet Letter essay: Why was Dimmesdale’s Suffering Worse Than Hester’s?

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