Hester's Secrets

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Scarlet Letter relates to the theme of individual versus society in various ways throughout the novel because of the main character’s (Hester) hardship with her secrets that were kept. Not only Hester but Dimmesdale and Chillingworth were keeping secrets from each other and the whole town. Hester has to control her desire  to tell the truth and practices the art of deception  to hide these secrets from others. Throughout the history of mankind, the use of deception to promote oneself to a higher level, or to hide one's past, has been a common occurrence. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne , Chillingworth and Dimmesdale both use deception to hide secrets  from each other, and from the rest of the town. Hester Prynne is the only one who knows the secrets that Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are hiding from the townsfolk. When she will not reveal  the father of Pearl,  Reverend Dimmesdale says, "She will not speak."  It is  ironic that the person who committed the sin with Hester is the one who announces publicly  that she will not reveal the name of the other sinner. 

Later, Chilling worth wants to know who it is and he says, "Thou wilt not reveal his name?"  Hester refuses and continues to hold her silence.  Then Chillingworth, still trying to find out the name of her lover, comments, ". . . but Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he?" When he says this, he is hinting that he is going to do something to Dimmesdale.  This is why Hester makes Chillingworth promise not to kill her lover if he finds out his identity.  Chillingworth deserves to know  who slept with his wife, although Hester should not have had to tell him.  I think that Dimmesdale should have admitted that he was Pearl's father. Today, if a priest admitted such a  crime, he would probably be sent to jail. However, in the novel, had  Dimmesdale confessed, the  townsfolk would have liked him even more. Hester also has to live with, and conceal, the secret that...
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