The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay example

The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay example

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The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of Hester Prynne, a strong-willed, young woman living in a Puritan village during the seventeenth-century. After she gives birth to an illegitimate child, Hester is forced to don the shameful scarlet letter “A” on her breast as a sign of her sin and to live as a warning to other young maidens. Roger Chillingworth, the aged husband of Hester, arrives in Boston in time to view his wife in “ignominious exposure” (Hawthorne 117). He decides to remain in the village under the guise of a doctor with the sole purpose of taking revenge on Hester’s unnamed lover. Closely tied to Hester, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a young pastor in failing health who is esteemed by the whole village to be a saintly and eloquent clergyman. Unbeknownst to the villagers, he is the father of Hester’s child and suffers from intense guilt that manifests in his heart problems. Chillingworth becomes Dimmesdale’s live-in physician and, upon discovering the pastor’s dark secret, begins to insidiously torment him. Dimmesdale, driven by impulse, confesses publicly to his sin and falls dead on the scaffold. Chillingworth, left without a purpose for living, dies a year later. The passage in chapter 9 is start of the relationship between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. The dramatic irony found in the passage is due to the false identities that Chillingworth and Dimmesdale adopt and their interactions foreshadow their future relations.
In the passage, the difference between the villagers’ perceptions of Roger Chillingworth and his true character results in dramatic irony. Dramatic irony occurs when the readers know more information than the characters do. Roger Chillingworth is a “learned man who…sent his wife be...


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...consequences. However, as indicated by the difference in their personalities, the result will likely be the demise of Dimmesdale. This uncertainty of what is to come as a result of the dramatic irony in the situation between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth creates suspense.
Hester Prynne has two males in her life: the mysterious and dangerous Roger Chillingworth, her husband, and the cowardly and conscientious Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, the father of her child. These two scholars’ meeting and developing relationship, as shown in the passage, is filled with dramatic irony, since neither men knows the secret identity of the other. This irony as a result of their secrets builds the suspense of the story and foreshadows plot developments. The collision of their different personalities also warns of the nature of the future relationship between Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.

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