The Scarlet Letter: Internal and External Conflicts
In the novel, the Scarlet Letter, there are four main characters, Hester Prynne, Pearl Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Prynne Chillingworth. The story goes; Hester Prynne committed the sin of adultery with the minister of their Puritan Community, Arthur Dimmesdale, the community then condemning her to wear the scarlet letter “A” for the rest of her natural life. Pearl Prynne being the product of the two sinners. In the moment, when Hester is completing the first part of her punishment, her long lost husband, Roger Prynne Chillingworth, arrives. Not wanting his arrival acknowledge Roger replaces his maiden name for Chillingworth. This situation creates a whole plot of conflicts both external and internal in all of the four main characters. All main characters in the novel interact to create these conflicts, and the community is as well involved in these conflicts.
Hester Prynne is pointed out as the protagonist/heroine of the novel. Being one of the main characters in the story she had many conflicts. One internal conflict of hers would be the embarrassment and the realization of her present and future. In chapter 2 paragraph 22 it states, “Could it be true?… she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and shame were real. Yes! – these were her realities, - all else had vanished.” In this quote she realized that everything happening to her was in fact the real deal. Stating the obvious of course, but she had just been in prison and had the birth of her child! This is an internal conflict because this does have her dealing with the pain in her heart of wearing the symbol “A” or taking care of a child with the father unknown to the public. This leading to another internal conflict for Madame Prynne, that being having to raise little Pearl all on her own. Living the life of a single mother is quite difficult during that time and in a Puritan Community. Considering how people of the settlement react to Hester’s given situation, and how she does not give the father of Pearl a name to the community. This is an internal conflict because Hester is emotionally hurt on raising the product of two as a single mother. She has to face the community by herself for the first few years of the situation. Hence an external conflict for Ms. Prynne with her own community. The Puritans had isolated her apart from everyone else and had judged her since the moment she had stepped out of the prison doors. Her own peers were judging her for the sin she had done, as if they were not sinful themselves. Yet they judged someone they used to socialize and talk to as dear friends. Friends of hers would think her punishment as injustice that she deserved more than a three hour standing and the natural life bearing of the scarlet letter. The judging of her entire community had caused her to become isolated, leading to be socially inactive. The scarlet letter was a reminder of all this conflict. Hester also had an external conflict with her husband, Roger Chillingworth. This being how while standing on the platform of the pillory, spotted her husband and the physical body language winced at the look, showing the tension brought on by the first thought “stranger”. Terror had coursed through her at the sight of him! Hester Prynne dealt with her internal and external conflicts quite discreetly, made it seem as if she was okay, but really wasn’t emotionally.
Pearl Prynne is the outcome of the sin committed. As a young child, she too also had conflicts to deal with. An internal conflict of young Pearl would have to deal with how she was born and how she is being raised. A quote to follow that statement would be in chapter 6 paragraph 1, “We have as yet hardly spoken of the infant, that little creature whose innocent life had sprung… out of the rank luxuriance of a guilty pleasure.” This quote also coincides with an external...
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