The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1206 words - 5 pages

Thomas Hobbs and John Locke have two very opposing viewpoints on human nature. Locke believes that human nature is innately good; Hobbs thinks that human nature knows right from wrong, but is naturally evil and that no man is entirely “good”. Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, believes that every man is innately good and Hawthorne shows that everyone has a natural good side by Hester’s complex character, Chillingworth’s actions and Dimmesdale’s selfless personality.
At the beginning of the Scarlet Letter Hester Prynne is labeled as the “bad guy”. The townspeople demand the other adulterer’s name, but Hester denies this revelation. She does not reveal it because she knows that the information will crumble the foundation of the Puritan religion and the town itself. “‘But, Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he?’ ‘Ask me not!’ replied Hester Prynne, looking firmly into his face. ‘That thou shalt never know!’(Hawthorne 52). Hester knows that finding out that the father of the child, the Minister that is leading the town, will diminish credibility for the church and for Dimmesdale, the Minister. During her punishment, Hester decides to move out near the woods and make a living as a seamstress. Hester is regarded as an outcast from Boston, but she still gives back to the society that shuns her. ‘“Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge?’ they would say to strangers. ‘It is our Hester, —the town's own Hester, —who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comfortable to the afflicted!’”(Hawthorne 111). Her acts of kindness, helping the sick and comforting the afflicted, toward the society that makes her an outcast shows the inner goodness of a person. Through the sin of adultery Hester bears a child, which she names Pearl. The church says that Pearl will be a constant, physical reminder of her crime. However, Hester does not see Pearl as a burden, but yet a blessing. She cares for Pearl with all the love in her heart. “Her own dress was of the coarsest materials and the most somber hue; with only that one ornament,—the scarlet letter,—which it was her doom to wear. The child's attire, on the other hand, was distinguished by a fanciful, or, we may rather say, a fantastic ingenuity, which served, indeed, to heighten the airy charm that early began to develop itself in the little girl.”(Hawthorne 57). Hester’s wardrobe is downgraded so that Pearls can prosper, human nature enables Hester to become selfless for Pearl. Hester was seen as the antagonist during the opening chapters of the book, but as more light is shown on the character, it is seen that Hawthorne’s view of the natural good emulates through Hester.
Likewise, Roger Chillingworth’s character is described in many ways. He is called a rat, a snake, deceitful and lastly, but most profoundly the Devil. Even though he presents himself in this manner, deep down he is a good person. After the betrayal that he suffered...

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