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Symbolism In "The Scarlet Letter" Essay

1051 words - 4 pages

From fairy tales to mythologies, fables to romance to even the simplest short stories of a third grader’s book, almost all of them often comprise a scheme of Heroes vs. Villains, and Good vs. Evil. Similarly, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne also contains many of the same situations and characters with their own symbolic meanings that allow them to express strong and demanding feelings through the symbols that they carry. Hester Prynne, whom appears as a sinful woman, a shame to the society, is created to represent the goodness of the story. Ironically, her husband, Chillingworth, who initially appears to be an intelligent and honorable man, is created to symbolize a daemonic evil. He is symbolic of the hidden sin and immorality that exists within the Puritan society. As an honorable and intelligent man who fatuously enslaved himself to the Devil’s work, Roger Chillingworth revolves his life from kindness and intellect into endless obsession of revenge, eventually leading him to self-destruction.

Roger Chillingworth, originally named Roger Prynne, lived an old and lonesome life as a scholar in England who spent most of his life in isolation under the shadow of a dim lamplight with abstruse studying that turned him into a man with “remarkable intelligence in his features” (58) Roger Chillingworth first committed his sin when he chose to marry Hester Prynne, a stunning, young woman in which they shared no mutual acquisitiveness except for a great gap of age. Foreseen ahead of time, Roger Chillingworth knew that he was incapable of keeping the young, beautiful Hester Prynne by his side, yet he disillusioned himself with the hope that if he could spoil her with all the indulgences a woman ever fancied about, then she would in return warm up his cheerless heart - “a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a household fire” (72) Tragically, yet when it was time for him to realize that his thoughts had wronged both himself and Hester, it was already too late. As he arrived to the new world in Massachusetts a couple years after his wife sojourned there, he was hoping to find her awaiting his arrival and their happily-ever-after ending, Roger Chillingworth was instead met with the image of Hester holding another man’s baby tightly on her bosom on the scaffold, suffering public shame for an adulterous act. This causes the reader to feel a stroke of compassion for the poor old scholar whose simplest yearn for a bit of family warmth to rekindle the fire that had long frozen his heart’s innermost chamber, which had quickly been quelled like a frail candle in a storming night that was too weak to hold on to. As he stood facing the heart-dropping scene of his unfaithful wife, Chillingworth found himself positioned before a wide open road with many different paths, and he chose one that led to the darkest side known to man kind: vengeance.

Near the opening of the story, Roger Chillingworth was introduced with a...

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