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Deceit, Despair And Dejection In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter And Anderson's Speak

1203 words - 5 pages

A human being is subject to feelings that range from happiness to depression to indifferent. Whenever an author captures even some of the emotions that a person goes through, the author has made the characters realistic. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson are two perfect examples of authors who master the art of capturing feelings within the characters. Both books display instances where the characters are subject to the feelings of deceit, despair, and dejection; therefore, the characters seem as though they were alive and breathing.
In The Scarlet Letter, the main characters Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale are tangled in a web of deceit, which is the result of a sin as deadly as the Grimm Reaper himself: adultery. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter, describes the feeling of deceit using the main characters; for each of the cast the reaction to the deceit is different, thus the reader realizes the way a person reacts to a feeling differs between each character.
For example, Roger Chillingworth desperately tried to find out who committed the act of adultery with his wife Hester Prynne and explained what his response will be: “… the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he? ... I shall see him tremble … Sooner or later, he must … be mine!” (Hawthorne 27-28).Chillingworth’s feeling of deceit and the reaction is the polar opposite of the reaction from Hester Prynne. Hester Prynne wanted to be noticed by Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, her secret lover; she did not want to harm the Reverend. Unlike Chillingworth, Hester’s feeling of deceit is caused when Dimmesdale refused to tell the truth or recognize her. Even though Hester never said how she felt, it is made clear when Hester’s “spirit sank with the idea … [that] there could be no real bond betwixt the clergyman [Dimmesdale] and herself” (Hawthorne 194). The deceit between the married couple differs when involving Arthur Dimmesdale. Chillingworth’s and Prynne’s feeling of deceit are unlike as night is from day. Hawthorne made the characters’ deceit appear as though it could happen to anyone or the characters could jump from the page into life.
In Speak, Laurie Anderson, the author, took a different route to make her main character, Melinda, feeling of deceit real to the reader. Instead of adultery, Anderson used the perspective of a teenager who was raped. Melinda, a high school freshman, is tricked into following Andy Evans, a handsome upperclassman, not knowing that he is going to hurt her. “‘Come dance with me’ [said Andy Evans then] … he hurts me [Melinda] … [rapes Melinda] gets up and zips his jeans and smiles” (Anderson 134-136). As a result of the deception, Melinda’s response was typical of a rape victim: silence. Melinda believes “it is easier not to say anything … [and] nobody really wants to hear what you have to say” (Anderson 9).Since Melinda suffered a harsh deception, it made...

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