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Major Character Analysis Of "The Scarlet Letter".

1329 words - 5 pages

In "The Scarlet letter" Nathaniel Hawthorne writes about sin, the nature of evil, an individual's identity in society and the human condition by weaving all of these conditions in to his characters and thereby creating the plot in his novel. In his novel Hawthorne uses the repressive, authoritarian puritan society as an analogue for human kind in general. The puritan setting also enables Hawthorne to portray the human soul under extreme pressure. In the Scarlet Letter characters such as Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth while part of the puritan society in which they live, also reflect experiences relating to today's societies. Hawthorne as a descendent of the puritans where his grand farther and great grand farther were puritan judges is haunted by his puritan ancestry where he states that their lives are defined by strict definitions of sin and guilt. As a descendent of judges and magistrates who had handed down the same kind of punishment suffered by Hester Prynne, Hawthorne feels implicated in someway in the puritan traditions he criticizes. In the Scarlet Letter Hawthorne seems to be stating his feelings about his puritan ancestry through the narrator. This is evident through the narrators statements such as "the inner most me behind its vials". Hawthorne also examines puritan legacies such as the conflict between the individual and the church and the psychological aspects of good and evil. Hawthorne sees the puritan laws as unfair, accordingly in the Scarlet Letter Hawthorne calls in to question the key elements of puritan morality. Puritan laws are based upon sins and crimes committed against god, but in his description of Dimsdale, Hester and ChillingWorth, Hawthorne shifts the emphasis from sin to evil. In Hawthorne view sin is theological and requires a specific religious law to be broken, but evil on the other hand is an internal force generated by the wickedness of an individual. Hawthorne emphasizes this by incorporating this philosophy in to his characters nature.Dimmesdale surrounded by religious laws and trapped by his unyielding definition of sin is drawn towards his relation ship with Hester, which is defined by its own sanctity and does not fall in to a relationship defined by puritan law. But unlike Hester, Dimmesdale cannot commit wholeheartedly in to this relationship because he is held by his older belief that he is a guardian of morel puritan laws carved in stone, hence is torn between two worlds. Dimmesdale is also afraid that he would be condemned by his pears; therefore he is unable to take his place in the scaffold next to the women he loves. Although tormented by his own guilt, the reverent hides behind the mask of respectability so that he may remain a member of the community. This tragic pattern of the Scarlet Letter is continued with Hester and completed by Chillingworth.Hester on the other hand acknowledges that she is committed what is regarded as a criminal act of the church, but she does not believe that she...

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