Human Nature in the Scarlet Letter
In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows the flaws of the main characters, revealing the negativity in their human nature. Throughout the novel, each character is depicted to have his or her own value and ideas.
The novel begins with the main character, Hester Prynne, being led from a prison to a scaffold before the townspeople of early Boston, Massachusetts. The Magistrates of the town are punishing her for committing the sin of adultery and having a child out of wedlock. Although today we may not see this as a serious crime, in the early seventeenth century it was unheard of. Along with her punishment of public scrutiny and humiliation, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A”, for adulterer, on her chest. In the beginning this letter acts as a wall between Hester and society. She is known by the people mostly for the letter and the crime she committed. Instead of having a negative attitude towards her situation, Hester embraces her newfound identity. Within years the townspeople no longer recognized for her crime, but more so for her kindness. This shows how people’s views can change over time.
Another character, Chillingworth, who was Hester’s husband in the Old Country, is had been directly influenced by Hester’s actions. Even though Chillingworth can easily play the role of a victim he does not. Instead, he acts on his pain and redirects it towards revenge on Hester’s lover, Dimsdale. He acts as a friend to Dimsdale, only to receive the information he needs to put his plan into action. His reaction and actions when faced with betrayal display how a person can redirect their feelings and emotions in certain situations.
Dimsdale, Hester’s lover and the father of her child, lived with the guilt of his sin for years. As much as he wanted to expose himself to the public, he did not because of Hester’s wishes. They both kept the information confidential for years for each other, as much as it was killing...
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