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Copmaring The Scarlett Letter And Moby Dick

1119 words - 4 pages

Copmaring The Scarlett Letter and Moby Dick

Two distinguished authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, were the only two anti-transcendentalist novelists. They focussed their novels on limitations and the potential destructiveness of the human spirit rather than on its possibilities (The American Experience 301). Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Melville's Moby Dick, are tales of sin, guilt, obsession and destruction. From out of both of these anti-transcendentalist novels, various similarities arise between the characters. Mainly, Chillingworth from The Scarlet Letter and Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, stand out as the most related, prominent characters of the novels. Both Chillingworth and Captain Ahab are portrayed the same way in their respective novels and perform similar actions, which lead to their ultimate destruction.
In the areas of the meanings of their names, their corresponding authors' descriptions, and their character type, Chillingworth and Captain Ahab are alike. The names of these two characters are appropriate to their characters. Roger Chillingworth's name seems to be from the word chill, a synonym for fear and coldness of the heart. Chillingworth makes it a point to instill fear within Reverend Dimmsdale. He is notorious by Hester for having a cold heart. "What does Chillingworth want from Dimmsdale? Revenge…exposure and public humiliation" (Neilson 274). Indeed, Captain Ahab's name seems to come from biblical times. King Ahab of Israel was an evil man, who spent his time at war with neighboring countries. In Moby Dick, he is at war with the whale as well as other shipmates. He declares, "What do we do when we see a whale?…Lower Away, and after him!" (Melville 321). These two men, strategically modeled after their names, take on the role of the villain in their own worlds. The severity of both their characters is shown throughout each of the two novels. In The Scarlet Letter, Chillingworth, force Hester to reveal the man that she sinned with. He uses his authoritarian nature to instill fear within her. "Thou wilt not reveal his name? Not the less he is mine…" (Hawthorne 73). He promises to avenge the man who wronged him by sleeping with his wife. Throughout the rest of the novel, Chillingworth aims to destroy Arthur Dimmsdale, the man who slept with his wife. Similarly, in Moby Dick, Melville uses Captain Ahab as the evil character. When Ahab encounters another ship that says that they have seen Moby Dick, they immediately take off. He is also asked to help find the other Captain's son who is lost at sea, but is determined to catch Moby Dick, so he turns the other captain down (Great Books, MD). This shows Captain Ahab's cruelty to other human beings as well as his evil nature. Additionally, the descriptions of these two men are similar. In Moby Dick, Melville describes Captain Ahab as an evil harmful, destructive looking man. He has an made completely from ivory, and...

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