Scarlet Letter 2 Essay, Research Paper
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth are both physically and emotionally affected by the events which took place in their lives. During the course of the story, all three of the characters are disturbed by their pasts which are affecting their present lives and future. Hester is the only character that can not hide her mistake due to her pregnancy. Although, she can hide who the father of her child is, Dimmesdale. The mistakes of these three characters lead to painful choices and decisions though out the story.
Hester Prynne, a beautiful young woman sent to the Puritan Colony by her husband, was a victim of such painful tragedies. Hester becomes attracted to a fellow colonist, has an affair, and bears a child out of wedlock. She refuses to reveal who the child’s father is, so she must bear her punishment alone. She is forced to take the town’s ridicule and must wear at all times a scarlet letter “A,” which identifies her as an adulterer. Hester is left to lead a life of loneliness and seclusion from the rest of society. She holds so much pain inside her along with her secret. Everyday she was painfully reminded of her mistake by Pearl, Pearl’s father Dimmesdale, and her husband Chillingworth. “All the light and graceful foliage, of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline which might have been repulsive, had she possessed friends or companions to be repelled by it (pages 159- 160).” Hester’s emotional struggles begin to show in her appearance also. Her once unique beauty becomes haggard. “It was a sad transformation, that her rich and luxuriant hair had either been cut off, or was so completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine (Page 160).” Hester Prynne’s overall character becomes changed and weak due to her sinful experiences.
Arthur Dimmesdale, also a major part of Hester’s sin, had to deal with person conflicts.
Dimmesdale, a saintly but physically weak and nervous man, is Pearl’s father. He is forced to keep this a secret in fear of lawful punishment like Hester. He must deal with the overwhelming guilt of his actions towards Hester. “His [Dimmesdale's] moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. It grovelled helpless on the ground. Even while his intellectual faculties retained their pristine strength, or had perhaps acquired a morbid energy. Which disease only could have given them (page 155).” After years of building emotional pain, Dimmesdale becomes ill and develops a cancerous growth upon his chest which seems to resemble the scarlet letter. Dimmesdale’s conscience finally gives in when he confesses to the town of his guilt, just before he dies on the pillory.
Roger Chillingworth is another character guilty of lying and keeping a terrible secret. He is Hester’s husband, a physician, and a scholar. Chillingworth told no one that he was Hester’s husband out of shame. He becomes Dimmesdale’s friend and doctor, and secretly plays on his sense of guilt over his actions towards Hester. Chillingworth alsodisturbs Hester and Dimmesdale’s plans to sail to England alone with Pearl. Chillingworth’s intentions are evil. His appearance even begins to resemble his satanic personallity as time progresses. “In a word, old Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man’s faculty of transforming himself into a devil, if he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil’s office (page 166).”
All of the above characters; Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth all had situations that intertwined. Their emotional stabilities were all very weak. All of their physical states suffered as a result of their mental being’s. The events in their lives directly determined their emotional and physical being’s.