Treatment Of Characters At Psychological Level In The Scarlet Letter

1270 words - 5 pages

2) Treatment of characters at psychological level in "The Scarlet Letter"Hawthorne was an explorer of the dark recesses of the human soul. Hawthorne shows himself as a really great psychologist in The SCarlet Letter. It is the inner life of the characters that constitutes the main theme of this novel. The inter relationships of the various characters among themselves, and their individual relationships to society, are worked out and developed through the medium of psychological analysis. In the case of each principal character, it is the state of mind of the individual at various stages of his or her life that interests the author. Both the hero and heroine in the story undergo a severe mental agony, and the author gives evidence of a keen insight in revealing to us the nature of that agony and the causes which bring it about. The third principal character, Chillingworth, does not undergo much mental torture, but in his case the psychology of revenge has been closely examined and stated in explicit terms.Hester's thoughts and feelings are laid bare before us at every step. When she stands on the scaffold facing the multitude of citizens, she has a "burning blush" and yet a "haughty smile" on her face. The burning blush reveals her sense of shame caused by the public exposure, while the haughty smile shows her defiance of society's moral code. The Scarlet Letter, which she has embroided on the bosom of her dress, reveals "the desperate reckness of her mood." The memories of the past life which come to Hester as she stands on the scaffold, are psychologically true. Exposed to public disgrace, anybody would turn to his or her past life. It is the nature of a human being to turn to his or her past life. It is the nature of a human being to turn to past events and happenings which present a sharp contrast with present occurences.Hester's decision not to quit Boston, in site of the permanent disgrace to which she is doomed, is again, psychologically true once we understand the secial case of Hester's mind. The chain that binds her to this place is unbreakable in her eyes because the man, with whom she feels herself united by a secret bond, dwells here. But there is another reason also which prevents her from quitting Boston. This place was the scene of her guilt, and it should be the scene of her earthly punishment. With this thought, Hester persuades herself to believe that the torture of her daily shame would ultimately purify her soul.In his study of Hester, then, HAwthorne shows us the strong and resolute mind of a woman who refuses to surrender to a code of morality for which she feels an instinctive abhorrence. Not once does she, feel sorry for what she has done, because not once does she realise that there was any wrong in what she did. The manner in which she continues to wear the stigma shows that she is made of heroic stuff. Her penance, first imosed upon her by society, and then imposed by herself, serves not to give rise to any feeling of...

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