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people’s ruin. The scarlet letter set off a course of events one right after another that
brought nothing but heartache, death, and suffering. The wearer of the scarlet letter, Hester Prynne, loved a man, Arthur Dimmesdale. The love between these two people resulted in a tale that will forever be considered a classic in American litatutre. The book is an in depth view of the consequences of secret loves and ultimate sins. The scarlet letter began as a lesson, but after its deeds were done served as a legend.
Throughout my reading of The Scarlet Letter I have developed a few opinions.
One of those opinions is that this entire ordeal could have been avoided with the use of
common sense. If Hester and Dimmesdale had stopped and thought it out carefully there would not be a baby in the equation. If there was no child, than Hester and Dimmesdale could have loved each other in secret, and maybe then their plan to run away might have been successful.
Now, Hester may have been successful in her lack of common sense, but she wore the letter “A” proudly, as is shown in the following quotation from the novel: “... The point which drew all eyes and, as it were, transfigured the wearer-so that both men and women, who had been familiarly aquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time--was the Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself (61).” I believe that although it caused her much pain and suffering it could also be a token of her love for Dimmesdale. She wears the letter as a consequence from loving Dimmesdale. She might have made the letter so lovely as to vibrate positive feelings from it, however, which may or may not have been a good thing.
See, if Hester had just accepted her sin and not boasted about as if the letter had no effect on her, or as if she hadn’t done anything wrong, she may have been more accepted by the people of the town. She might even have saved herself from unnecessary pain and suffering, whether or not she really believed the act she pulled for the town.
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"The Scarlet Letter: An In Depth View of an Opinionated Reader?s Opinion." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Dec 2019
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decorated her letter with gold thread and made it beautiful for all eyes to see. For that
she was shunned. The town people believed she was proud of her sin, which she seemed.
“… What is it but to laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?” “It were well,” muttered the most iron-visaged of the old dames, “if we stripped Madam Hester’s rich gown off her dainty shoulders; and as for the red letter, which she hath stitched so curiously, I’ll bestow a rag of mine own rheumatic flannel, to make a fitter one (61)!” Hester held her head high for her own pride, when she should have kept her head down. The town’s people’s eyes burned hatred through her eyes into her skull for that.
Hester loved Dimmesdale. She loved him wholly, completely, and with every inch of her existence. She loved him so much that she considered them bound together with a spiritual marriage, and she would have given her life for his. “Such was the ruin to which she had brought to the man, once--nay, why should we not speak it?--still so passionately loved! Hester felt that the sacrifice of the clergyman’s good name and death itself, as she already told Roger Chillingworth, would have been infinitely preferable to the alternative which she had taken upon herself to choose. And now, rather than have had this grievous wrong to confess, she would gladly have lain down on the forest leaves and died there, at Arthur Dimmesdale’s feet (184).” She would rather have given her life than Dimmesdale go through the pain of having to give up his ministry.
Dimmesdale did not love Hester as passionately. At first their love was of the
same scale. However, after time Dimmesdale became more cowardly and selfish. He no longer felt as much for Hester. Instead, he replaced it with his own personal grievance. Since he had little contact with Hester he probably felt the torture was only happening to him. The fact that Chillingworth also contributed to his pain was a factor Hester did not have, which Dimmesdale might have been aware of. Therefore, leading him to be more selfish and care more deeply about his own existence and suffering. He let his pain control him and he became obsessed with it. In his free time it wasn’t about how Hester and Pearl have been ruined, it was about how he could barely breathe because the weight of his sin was crushing his lungs. He did give up his ministry, but not for Hester or for Pearl. It was so he could breathe freely and have pure thoughts untainted by his sin. He gave up his ministry because he could no longer hold in the pain. In the forest with Hester the two talked of their sin and of Roger Chillingworth. Dimmesdale’s words were one sided. They never left the thought of how his life was in ruin and how he has had nothing but suffering the past seven years. Even when Hester brought up the topic of their spiritual bond he didn’t linger on the topic, instead he told her to hush and kept talking of Roger Chillingworth. “That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!” “Never, never!” whispered she. “What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so! We said so to each other! Hast though forgotten it?” “Hush, Hester!” said Arthur Dimmesdale, rising from the ground... “Hester,” cried he, “here is a new horror! Roger Chillingworth knows your purpose to reveal his true character. Will he continue, then, to keep our secret? What will now be the course of his revenge (186)?” Even though Dimmesdale remained selfish and stayed on the topic of his own demise, Hester still loved him wholly.
Some people will say that if Dimmesdale had not confessed his sin and died that
he, Pearl, and Hester would have run away and lived happily in Old England. Something
that might be forgotten is that Roger Chillingworth also had a ticket for that same boat. I
say that no matter where they went they would not have been happy. Dimmesdale would
always be upset because he was a sinner, Hester would always be giving everything she
had to Pearl and Dimmesdale and getting nothing in return, Pearl would have always
been “evil”, and Chillingworth would have always followed, torturing Dimmesdale. If
Chillingworth for some reason had been lost from the story and it was just the other three
characters, the story would still be a downer. Their secret sin would eat away at them till
there was nothing left. Every smile would be out numbered by a frown, every happy
moment would cease to a halt when Dimmesdale and Hester remembered they were hiding out, and every loving moment would be tainted by the fact that the two had indeed run away from their problems. Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne would be haunted by their own choices for the rest of their lives. The scarlet letter was the source of all these events; it was what kept the story going. Without it the legend would be non-existent. If a person wishes to take anything from this book I would hope it would be the advice given by the author. “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred (242)!”
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet: New York, 1980.