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Character Analysis of The Scarlet Letter

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Emotions instigate actions throughout a person’s life. Whether a person chooses to act upon their feelings reflects their true character. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne explains the qualities of human emotions through his characters. Each of his characters represents a moral quality in which people can relate to through their own lives. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne reveals his character's conflicting emotions and hearts.

Hester Prynne masks her shame and attempts to resume her normal life. After being publicly humiliated for committing the transgression of adultery, Hester continues her life with a stronger personality. At first, Hester is ashamed of herself and of the direct proof of her sin, Pearl. However, after coping with her sin and allowing herself time to realize her mistake, she believes the “badge of shame” (Hawthorne 58) will teach her daughter and benefit her. She embraces her punishment in order to purify herself. Hester grows stronger from her transgression by learning to endure the humiliation and move on with a bigger purpose: raising her daughter. To Hester, Pearl “is [her] happiness--[her] torture” (60) and continues to be her only anchor. Hawthorne describes Hester as “self-ordained a Sister of Mercy” (104) where her scarlet letter is no longer perceived as an icon for her sin, but rather a “symbol of her calling” (104). After conquering her shame, she learns to help others--those who had fallen -- recover from their own conflicts. Hester still lives with the shame of her sin every time she looks at her daughter, but manages to beat the pain and guilt that tries to overwhelm her.

Roger Chillingworth is consumed by rage and driven by an evil vengeance. Upon returning to his wife aft...

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...r Dimmesdale to die because he must repent for his sin by appealing to God. Hawthorne explains the only source of peace Dimmesdale can achieve is through death.

The novel proves to identify the human traits many experience throughout their life. Hester portrays the strength that results from ruination and accomplishes her individuality from her isolation. Chillingworth is the driven vengeance that ultimately consumes all, including himself. Dimmesdale represents the consequences of burgeoning guilt and the struggle to atone for one’s mistakes. Hawthorne depicts the harsh realities of life and the lessons learned throughout it and sets the novel as a guide. Ultimately, Hawthorne illustrates his characters to further prove his take of life and the lessons which can be learned.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Simon & Brown, 2010. Print.
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