Suffering in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Satisfactory Essays
Suffering in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Scarlet Letter: How does Hawthrone Show Suffering In The Scarlet Letter?

"Foul whisp'rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds. To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician." (Shakespeare - Macbeth) Okay, I know this is Shakespeare, but it sums up the suffering of The Scarlet Letter well. Doesn't it?

Hester suffers society's judgement for her adultery, the letter A (a constant reminder of her infidelity). Hester is burdened by her solitude. For though she realizes her folly, she is unable to accept that she alone has sinned.

"...if truth were everywhere to be shown, a scarlet letter would blaze forth on many a bosom besides Hester Prynne's?"

"Be it accepted as a proof that all was not corrupt in this poor victim of her own frailty, and man's hard law, that Hester Prynne yet struggled to believe that no fellow-mortal was guilty like herself."

" the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike."

* Dimmesdale suffers by the inconsistancy and unassurance of his mind. As his guilt consumes him, his body withers (along with the help of the leech).

"Wherever there is a heart and an intellect, the diseases of the physical frame are tinged with the peculiarities of these."

"Mr. Dimmesdale (was) conscious that the poison from one morbid spot was infecting his heart's entire substance."

In Dimmesdale's case he was tortured by his lies.

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

"I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the constrast between what I seem and what I am! And Satan laughs at it!"

Shakespeare break:

"For when my outward action doth demonstrate

The native act and figure of my heart

In compliment extern, 'tis not long after

But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

For daws to peck at. I am not what I am."


* Chillingworth suffers from his obsession. Like Dimmesdale, he dies because of his moral illness.
Get Access