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Arthur Miller states that the story has to have living characters. In The Scarlet Letter, the main characters are Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Pearl, and Roger Chillingworth. Nathaniel Hawthorne successfully brings these characters to life by showing us human nature and by making them breathe and cry and have emotions that only real people can feel. Hester has real emotions as Hawthorne shows us when he tells what is going through her head when she is on the scaffold in the first scaffold scene; “…she saw her own face, glowing with girlish beauty…” He also shows us Dimmesdale and the guilt he endures “…the judgement of God is on me…it is too mighty for me to struggle with!” He shows us how Pearl’s darkness throughout the book, “Hester could not help question…if Pearl was a human child…. deeply black eyes…” Hawthorne brilliantly portrays these characters as living.
Finding enlightenment or knowledge from this book is a bit more difficult. In a specific section of this book, Hawthorne tells the reader right out what the knowledge to gain from this book is, he says that to lie and to be dishonest to oneself and to the public and to carry guilt, as Dimmesdale and Hester did, is the worst possible thing that a human can do. Dimmesdale carried his guilt for so long that it deteriorated his physical and emotional state and drove him nearly mad. Hester carried Dimmesdale’s secret along with Chillingworth’s and it hurt her emotionally also.
The third aspect of a tragedy is that there must be a conflict internally. There is definitely a conflict in Dimmesdale about his guilt. When Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are discussing why men keep their sins quiet, Dimmesdale becomes weak from the emotional pain that it brings him.
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