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Character Analysis Of The Scarlet Letter

1092 words - 4 pages

Emotions instigate actions throughout a person’s life. Whether a person chooses to act upon their feelings reflects their true character. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne explains the qualities of human emotions through his characters. Each of his characters represents a moral quality in which people can relate to through their own lives. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne reveals his character's conflicting emotions and hearts.
Hester Prynne masks her shame and attempts to resume her normal life. After being publicly humiliated for committing the transgression of adultery, Hester continues her life with a stronger personality. At first, Hester is ashamed of herself and of the direct proof of her sin, Pearl. However, after coping with her sin and allowing herself time to realize her mistake, she believes the “badge of shame” (Hawthorne 58) will teach her daughter and benefit her. She embraces her punishment in order to purify herself. Hester grows stronger from her transgression by learning to endure the humiliation and move on with a bigger purpose: raising her daughter. To Hester, Pearl “is [her] happiness--[her] torture” (60) and continues to be her only anchor. Hawthorne describes Hester as “self-ordained a Sister of Mercy” (104) where her scarlet letter is no longer perceived as an icon for her sin, but rather a “symbol of her calling” (104). After conquering her shame, she learns to help others--those who had fallen -- recover from their own conflicts. Hester still lives with the shame of her sin every time she looks at her daughter, but manages to beat the pain and guilt that tries to overwhelm her.
Roger Chillingworth is consumed by rage and driven by an evil vengeance. Upon returning to his wife after being held captive by natives, Chillingworth discovers his wife's infidelity. Naturally, as any spouse would do once the reality of their partner's infidelity is known, they immediately ask who the fellow sinner is. Chillingworth, after seeing his wife upon the scaffold, enduring her public humiliation, calls through the crowd, “Speak; and give your child a father!” (22). His curiosity is justified and deserves to know the name of her paramour. However, as Hester continually refuses to name the father of her child, Chillingworth grows more agitated. He threatens to destroy the man's life by secretly torturing and ferreting out his secret. He will not “interfere with Heaven's own method of retribution, or, betray him to the gripe of human law” (29), but intends to torture the man with the truth of his transgression until it destroys the man. His retribution is no longer honorable as he takes his vengeance to drastic heights. Chillingworth keeps a close eye on his “patient”, Arthur Dimmesdale, and learns Dimmesdale harbors a secret. He “dug into the poor clergyman’s heart, like a miner searching for gold…” (74) to find anything that may be used in Chillingworth’s favor. He is merciless in his quest for the truth and...

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