The Scarlet Letter, Puritan Society Essays

The Scarlet Letter, Puritan Society Essays

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Puritan society deems Hester Prynne an unchaste woman, Arthur Dimmesdale a saint, and Roger Chillingworth a valued member of society. However, Hawthorne turns their interpretations around and suggests his own, ultimately presenting Hester as a broken woman with emotions and feelings; Dimmesdale as a minister who’s not very saint-like sin consumes him with guilt, and Chillingworth as an unmerciful husband who is the farthest away from salvation. Hawthorne’s interpretations suggest contrasting with the views of Puritan society, that Hester Prynne is a woman who takes regret in her actions, searching for holy redemption through the object of love that came out of her sin; Arthur Dimmesdale is a man of cowardice and weakness, a cannot own up to his actions of sin; and that Roger Chillingworth’s quest for revenge transformed him into a malevolent being. Hawthorne uses symbols, such as imagery with the colors black and red, to illustrate his characters as the embodiment evil and sin, as well as the embodiment of holy redemption.
Hawthorne associates Chillingworth with the color black to directly represent him as the “Black Man”. After arriving in Boston, the townspeople rumored that Chillingworth’s time in Indian captivity turned him to the black arts. While talking to Hester in the prison, Chillingworth swears to find the father of Hester’s daughter Pearl, the man she committed her sin with, and get his revenge. Chillingworth establishes a new life in Boston, and moves in with Dimmesdale, seemingly to tend to the ailing minister. The more Chillingworth gets to know the minister, the more suspicious he becomes of his character, and undergoes a “remarkable change…especially since his abode w...


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...t Letter contrasted to the interpretations of the Puritan society they lived in at the time. Society defines Arthur Dimmesdale as a powerful and compassionate leader in society, but in private he has an vigilant moral sense that causes damage to his physiognomy and spiritual state. Roger Chillingworth was first thought of a saint, helping the town’s beloved reverend, but is a man devoid of any compassion, consumed with revenge, not justice, and seeks destruction of others rather righting of wrongs, turning into a manifestation of evil. Hester Prynne was seen as a sinful woman doomed to repent for her sins, but Hawthorne defines her as a woman seeking redemption through her closest objects of affection. Hawthorne portrays the characters in his novel using symbols and sensory images to contrast how the character’s developments embody holy redemption, and sin and evil.

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