Two Faces in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

Two Faces in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

Length: 1356 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Scarlet Letter:  Two Faces              


"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally becoming bewildered as to which may be true”. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, this quote applies to the two main characters of the novel. It applies to Arthur Dimmesdale in a literal way; he clearly is not the man that he appears to be, and the guilt that goes along with such deception consumes his entire life. The quote also applies to Hester Prynne, but in quite a different way because it was not her choice to wear the “face” that she was forced to wear.  The mark of the scarlet letter on her bosom determined how others perceived her and, in turn, how she was expected to perceive herself. At first, Hester did not consider the sin that she committed as blasphemous and horrible as the people of Boston did, but she was forced to wear the “face” of a sinner.

Neither Hester or Arthur could live their lives concealing their true emotions. Arthur literally could not live with it, while Hester changed the way she felt on the inside to correspond to her guilty external image. At the court house, when Arthur Dimmesdale was pleading for Hester to reveal the name of the man with whom she had an affair, it was clear that a part of him actually wanted everyone to know that it was he who was the guilty one.

Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place...better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life…(47).

When this plea is made, it appears to be quite ironic. The man who participated in the sin is trying to convince his accomplice to do him in. However, this ...


... middle of paper ...


...t with the sin in a completely different way not only because she was a different person, but because there was no additional weight of a secret that went along with the sin. Instead of trying to figure out her identity, the way Arthur had, and clinging onto the belief that what she had done was not a sin, she allowed herself to surrender and believe what the rest of society believed at that time. The people of Boston saw adultery as a sin, and there was no way that any good or love could come out of it. When Arthur's character is tested, he struggles to find the answer but is unable to, and literally dies trying. Hester, on the other hand, does not give such a noble attempt, but rather chooses, whether consciously or not, to go along with society’s views of adultery.

Works Cited:

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a combination of various literary elements contribute to the academic value of the novel. Symbolism, imagery, and figurative language assist in conveying the tone of the events occurring in main character’s lives. From Hester’s first public appearance as a sinner to the A illustrated on her grave, she experiences mixed emotions both interpersonally and extrapersonally, defining why her story is one of highest regards. From the first scene on the scaffold, Hester’s scarlet letter and her intense shame define her character....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1071 words (3.1 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The Scarlet Letter is a classic book written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, first published in 1850. The Scarlet Letter takes place during the mid 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts. During this period of time, many people, if not all, were puritans and dedicated to the word of God. In this town there was a married couple, Roger Chillingworth and Hester Prynne. It was said and believed that the husband was dead and or lost out at sea. Hester however becomes pregnant and gives birth to a little girl, Pearl, while her husband is away....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1312 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Opposition is prominent in literature and is often used to portray ideas that are completely different from each other. Such opposition can even be used to enforce both duality and paradoxical tones in a novel. In “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, he also uses this duality to describe the relationship between the two main male characters. Hawthorne focuses on the public and private lives of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, and the paradoxical connection that they share. Dimmesdale, the town’s most loved preacher and most eligible bachelor, hides behind this mask of good by also being wrought by the guilt of being an adulterer....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1412 words (4 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In the book Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1642 Boston, Massachusetts, Hester Prynne has become a women to be respected. Hester Prynne was a mother of a child who was conceived as to be a “sin”. Pearl, Hester 's child was conceived while Hester 's husband was away.This exposed Hester for committing adultery, therefore that 's how she obtained the “A” for life.The “A” stands for adultery which is the Scarlet Letter .Hester has provided many examples of why she should be respected such as; her integrity,coming forth with her sins, and her inner strength as a character....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
761 words (2.2 pages)

The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, a woman named Hester, who is abandoned by her husband for two years, is having an affair with the pastor, Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester gives birth to a daughter while her husband is away which leads people to believe that she is having an affair. The Puritans’s view of sin is very strict, so they believe Hester deserves a terrible punishment.Hester keeps the father hidden from the knowledge of the townspeople, so she receives the brutal punishment by herself....   [tags: Puritan, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
855 words (2.4 pages)

Analysis Of `` The Scarlet Letter `` By Nathanial Hawthorne Essay

- As time progresses, there are noticeable changes in the way that religion intervenes with the ideals and thoughts of any given general society. Numerous past problematic situations have now dwindled down to particularly that, no longer issues of the present. Regardless, the questionable issue of Adultery remains, standing true as consistently being the, “it,” scandal, being means for both religious and societal predicaments. Present to this day, the reputational damage done to an individual is massive, regarding Adultery, and people are left to decide what they can do about it, often left with very minimal choice but to accept or deny what they have done....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Strong Essays
1311 words (3.7 pages)

A Plea for Truthfulness in "the Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The story, the Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne published in 1850, may be viewed through many different lenses, however Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth project moral values in a powerful description of good and evil to show that if one is true to themselves they will live a simpler life with happy consequences. Throughout The Scarlet Letter Hester lives with disgrace and is always mocked by the towns people. There are many instances of characters not being true to themselves....   [tags: Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, characters,]

Strong Essays
839 words (2.4 pages)

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay example

- The definition of strength by dictionary.com is “the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power. vigor.” Hester shows strength in ways that people can only imagine and becomes almost a idol for this. The definition of strength cant even describe how strong she was. In a time where women were very overlooked, Hester Prynne stood up for her right to be a woman, and did it in a strong. She followed her heart and ended up facing the consequences that came with it. Her child and her lived in a town that shunned her....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne]

Strong Essays
1665 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a gothic romance novel. The premise of the story is based on Hester Prynne, a young woman whose husband sent her to America and promised to meet her there later. However, he never arrived and was assumed to be dead. Hester has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale the pastor of the Puritan church, resulting in the birth of her child Pearl. The town learns the news of the affair and wonders who the father may be. Because Hester refuses to reveal the fathers identity and consider an adulterer, she is branded and forced to forever wear the scarlet letter “A” on her chest....   [tags: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Puritan]

Strong Essays
1489 words (4.3 pages)

Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

- In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the theme of sin viewed through the prism of many colors is the essence of the novel. The protagonist, Hester, her child, Pearl, and the Reverend Dimmesdale all live in a Puritanical society in Boston, and are subject to the Puritans' strict religious beliefs and rigid attitudes. Exposed to sin and the temptation of its concealment in varying degrees, these characters evolve through the novel in different ways. Hawthorne brilliantly displays these differences by juxtaposing extreme and vivid colors—concealment is shown in dark, drab, and gloomy shades, while openness has a bright and colorful sheen....   [tags: Hawthorne Scarlet Letter]

Strong Essays
1425 words (4.1 pages)