Characterization Of The Scarlet Letter Essay

Characterization Of The Scarlet Letter Essay

Length: 1491 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Characterization in The Scarlet Letter
The strict Puritan code in the mid seventeenth century is evident in The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel addresses the issue of adultery and the intensity of the sin. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale commit the sin of adultery and face challenges inflicted upon them by the Puritan society and personal values. Nathaniel Hawthorne centers the plot of his novel The Scarlet Letter on the four major characters, Hester Prynne, Pearl, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, analyzing their physical appearances, personalities, and roles.
In contrast to the typical Puritan women in Boston, Hawthorne depicts the female protagonist of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, as physically discrete. Hester has a perfect figure, a rich complexion, dark hair, and deep eyes. She dresses in modest clothing, but the symbol of her sin, the golden embroidered scarlet letter, remains the focus of her attire (Bloom 219). Hester’s breathtaking features and the scarlet letter give her a sense of individuality.
Hester’s principal qualities of strength and honesty are revealed throughout the novel. Her strength is seen in her actions after her sin is revealed. Foremost, she thinks of her adultery as an act committed out of passion and denies the belief that man’s nature is corrupt (McPherson 86). Keeping the identity of her lover a secret, Hester accepts the punishment inflicted upon her alone (Bloom 219). She decides to stay on the outskirts of Boston, refusing to escape from her place of punishment (Heims 62). Hester also fights to keep Pearl, declaring that the authorities have no right to take Pearl away (Bloom 220). Hester’s second attribute of honesty is shown through her communicat...


... middle of paper ...


...ult, Chillingworth is referred to as Satan’s emissary (106). On the road to vengeance, Chillingworth loses his humanity too. He feels no sympathy for Pearl when the authorities threaten to take her away from Hester (McPherson 85).
The course of action that each character takes drives the plot of the story. Hester acts as the protagonist, Pearl as the symbol of sin, Dimmesdale as the victim, and Chillingworth as the antagonist. In the puritanical society of Boston, Hester is publically humiliated, and Dimmesdale struggles with internal guilt. Chillingworth attempts to afflict Dimmesdale as means to seek revenge. In contrast, Pearl guides Hester and Dimmesdale to the acceptance of their sin. Nathaniel Hawthorne characterizes Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth through their mien, disposition, and function in order to mold the storyline of The Scarlet Letter.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Scarlet Letter, Hester’s Characterization Through Isolation Essay

- When everyone around someone wishes for him/her to not exists, how do they cope. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne revolves around Hester Prynne, the heroine, who battles with isolation created by sin and exclusion from a strict Puritan community. Shame and mockery follows the perspective that the rest of society holds on her, thrusting Hester in a world of seclusion. Hawthorne utilizes Hester’s characterization to convey the negative effect of isolation on their individual in The Scarlet Letter....   [tags: Literature]

Strong Essays
1446 words (4.1 pages)

Characterization through Imagery and Metaphor in The Scarlet Letter Essay example

- Characterization through Imagery and Metaphor in The Scarlet Letter         Throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne reveals character through the use of imagery and metaphor.   In the first Chapter of The Scarlet Letter, "The Prison-Door", the reader is immediately introduced to the people of Puritan Boston. Hawthorne begins to develop the character of the common people in order to build the mood of the story. The first sentence begins, "A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, a...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
1265 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Characterization, Symbolism, and Irony in The Scarlet Letter

- The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel about a young woman who commits adultery and is forced to wear the letter A, which symbolizes adultery, on her chest. In this novel, Hawthorne includes many symbols to display hidden meanings, including character symbols to wake up the reader. Irony is an important element as well, used to reveal the hypocrisy of humankind. The Scarlet Letter is a unique blend of characters, irony and symbolism. Hester Prynne is first described in the scaffold scene as, “tall, with a figure of perfect elegance on a large scale....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
1459 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- ... In fact, the people also go from condemning her for her sin to proclaiming Hester had “no selfish ends, nor lived in any measure of her own profit and enjoyment, people brought all their sorrows and perplexities, and besought her counsel, as one who had herself gone through a mighty trouble.” (179-180). The people began to recognize Hester’s heart of gold and understand how invaluable her advice can be. Hester had stumbled and fallen on her way to Heaven, but she so earnestly sought clemency that no one could deny her call to Heaven....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
769 words (2.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay example

- ... This explains why the townspeople fails to see Hester’s redeemable qualities, Dimmesdale’s direct association with sin and Hester’s affair, and Chillingworth’s inner yearning for vengeance. Instead, they see Hester as an adulterer, Dimmesdale as an impeccable minister, and Chillingworth as a highly educated and driven doctor. However, out of all of Hawthorne’s characters, Dimmesdale most accurately depicts religious hypocrisy. Overtime, the townspeople begin to see Chillingworth’s obsessive qualities and Hester’s commitment to her punishment, but they fail to see Dimmesdale as anything other than an ideal embodiment of Puritanism who “would go heavenward before them” (Hawthorne 148)....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Puritan]

Strong Essays
950 words (2.7 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essays

- ... Because of this they are unable to truly understand and interact with Dimmesdale. This is exemplified when Dimmesdale confesses that he has committed a grave sin, but the people respond with additional reverence and admiration at his humbleness as they say, “The saint on earth. Alas. If he discern such sinfulness in his own white soul, what horrid spectacle would he behold in thine or mine!” (140). By implying that he is such a holy being, they further raise the expectations that separates him, the “sinless”, from the rest of humanity, the “sinful”....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sin]

Strong Essays
726 words (2.1 pages)

Analysis Of Nathaniel Hawthorne 's ' The Scarlet Letter ' Essay

- Hawthorne’s Development of Dimmesdale “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Kahlil Gibran illustrates characterization that portrays suffering, thus enhancing one’s integrity and depth of character. The development of characters relies heavily on direct and indirect presentation. Direct presentation reveals a character through the author’s narrative, while indirect presentation occurs when the character develops from actions and dialogue....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1093 words (3.1 pages)

Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter Essay

- Pillars of Metaphorical Ambiguity in The Scarlet Letter Among the multiplicity of arcane elements hidden beneath the words in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", none is so apparent, yet strikingly subtle to the reader's perception and consumption of characterization than the allegorical play on words within the names of the characters.  Both the protagonist and her rival within the plot are blessed with conveniently appropriate, fitting names.  The four pillars supporting this novel are all cloaked with foreshadowing names, which silently clue the reader into what traits and significance the character holds as the story unfolds.  These pillars that solidify the novel are Hester Prynne, Rog...   [tags: Scarlet Letter essays]

Strong Essays
1429 words (4.1 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Other F-Word: Feminism in The Scarlet Letter The concept of feminism is defined as “political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster). Contrary to prior belief, it is not raising women above men. This was a fear held by many men in the nineteenth century. Therefore, Hawthorne was restricted in how he made the characters of The Scarlet Letter powerful within the society by what society feared. Throughout the novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to write a novel that is ahead of its time by showing feminist tendencies through Hester, however the constraints of his society and that of Puritan society force his writing to portray women in a negative light....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
990 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Sin of the Flesh in The Scarlet Letter

- The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a highly acclaimed work which centerpiece is the focus on the effects of sin in Puritan society. Hawthorne carried a heavy burden of truth hidden within the Puritan code, which has in turn created frenzy for his book since its publication in 1850. The age-old tale is of Hester Prynne a married woman in Boston, who is charged with adultery with an unknown partner. As punishment Hester must adorn a Scarlet A symbolizing her sin and shaping her existence....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter Essays]

Strong Essays
1214 words (3.5 pages)