Identity in the Scarlet Letter

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 521
  • Published : October 28, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
The Scarlet Letter characters struggle to accept their own personal identities. Hester embodies the scarlet letter, while Dimmesdale tries to break his stereotypical religious identity. By wearing the scarlet letter, Salem publically shames Hester. If she leaves the town, then she could remove the A, but instead she stays. She could go away with her daughter Pearl and have a completely normal life. She refuses to leave because the letter has become her identity, and she uses its power. Some people in the town even think that the A now symbolizes “able”, which means something completely different than the original significance. The A now means that Hester’s strength defies everything else, making her able and capable of defending herself. Towards the end, the council even considers removing the A. “It was debated whether or no, with safety to the common weal, yonder scarlet letter might be taken off your bosom” (Hawthorne 158). She proved to Salem that she could move on in life, and forget about the past. Hester’s strength inspires the people of Salem because even though ostracized, she uses her newfound strength for the good of the community. She becomes “so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comfortable to the afflicted” (Hawthorne 153). Hester’s fortitude is even considered sacred, and the townspeople say that the A would protect her in peril. Having a stereotypical religious identity ultimately creates problems for Dimmesdale because he fails to prove that he sins, thereby negating his stereotype. As the community minister, people see him as a messenger of God, so they idolize him. Truthfully, Dimmesdale commits adultery, which disproves the people’s view of him. Unlike Hester, Dimmesdale fails to realize that individuality and fortitude are achieved by inner strength and by accepting oneself. This severe internal struggle hinders him from achieving his individuality. Because he is now tied to Hester because of their daughter, Pearl, he feels guilt,...
tracking img