One More Thing With An Underlying Meaning

…When I Essay, Research Paper

Hathorne. Hawthorne. Visibly names are of importance to Nathaniel Hawthorne as evident in the “w” placed within his own to disassociate himself from his great great grandfather, a Salem judge. So, it would be logical to say that he took the naming of characters in his literary piece, The Scarlet Letter, into serious consideration: Chillingworth. Dimmesdale. Pearl. At nothing more than a glimpse at these names, one can make vague assumption about the character behind the name. A name is a covering of oneself; like the clothing one wears, it is of symbolic importance in The Scarlet Letter. “Chill: 1. A moderate but penetrating cold. 2. A feeling of coldness, as with fever. 3. A dampening of enthusiasm, spirit, of joy” (Berube 194). Hawthorne writes Roger Chillingworth as the mad scientist, compressing and suffocating Reverend Dimmesdale. Chillingworth is a name of cold ambition, perfectly pinpointing the goals of this character. “He now dug into the poor clergyman s heart like a miner searching for gold; or rather, like a sexton delving into a grave” this cold constant battle put upon Dimmesdale is Chillingworth s only task in his life, consuming all of his energy into the fight of vengeance (Hawthorn 125). Chillingworth transforms through the story into a grotesque old figure emitting the cold suffering he portrays as well as is named for. “…She thought of the dim forest, with its little dell of solitude, and love, and anguish…” is Dimmesdale not a fitting name for such a character within? (Hawthorne 234) Dimmesdale is a name that like Chillingworth, casts an accompanying shadow onto the characterization throughout the book. Dimmesdale is seen crumpling under the weight of his own scarlet letter, and so gradually we see his life, or his self-radiant light grow dimmer and less vibrant. “Never did a mortal suffer what this man has suffered” (Hawthorne 168). In knowing this, it is proper for a man like Dimmesdale to show it upon his face and for Hawthorne to even cast that despair into his name to never be merciful, for the reader to be bound to believe that his suffering is branded onto him, like the scarlet letter upon Hester s bosom.

Pearl. The solitary name within The Scarlet Letter that is connected with value and beauty and disassociated with suffering. The irony of such a thing can be seen when Hawthorne himself states “…She named the infant Pearl, as being of great price- purchased with all she had – her mother s only treasure!” (Hawthorne 85) It is fitting that the living symbol of sin be the very gift Hester lives for. Pearl is a little girl dancing inside of her own sunlit circle and had “…[her] own proper beauty” (Hawthorn 86). Within the story she is looked upon dashing forth with the same boldness her mother took when naming the child a rare beauty. The underlying meaning in Pearl s name can be gathered from the other such ironic instances in the book, however, the impression of the Pearl the reader remembers is one of an oyster dripping with blood. Names play an important role in Hawthorne s novel The Scarlet Letter by casting the beginning and final appearance onto his characters. Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, and Pearl all have references to themselves inside of their names. Chillingworth is seen as cold and frozen with hatred, while the reader watches Dimmesdale whither and dim away. Pearl is seen as a remembrance of her mother s sin that forces to be recognized. The appearance of these characters is shown in the story, but the names of the characters are harnesses of their specific emotion that will not leave the reader.


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