Literature and Composition II
The Scarlet Letter- Character Analysis
November 5, 2012
So Simple, It’s Complex
The story The Scarlet Letter is about a young woman whose husband sends her ahead of him to start their life while he finishes affairs. During the two years that they are apart she engages in an affair and she ends up having a child. Her husband returns to find her facing out in a courtyard, and then swears her to secrecy of who he is and vows that he will find out who the father is as the young woman won’t tell. We find out later that the adulterer is the town’s best preacher. So now we are faced with four characters; Hester Prynne the adulteress woman, Roger Chillingworth Hester’s husband, Arthur Dimmesdale the town preacher, and the now seven year old daughter of the adulterers Pearl. The four pivotal characters are so incredible diverse in their positions in the story. Hester Prynne:
We first encounter Hester at the gates of the jail wearing her perfectly embroidered “A” and holding her roughly three month old daughter. She is being ridiculed under their breath by the people in the courtyard where she will have to stand for a majority of the day but as one can tell she never lets her emotions show on her face. Hester Prynne seems to embody the act of free will in everything that she does, even in her having the actual affair. As the story goes on and we learn of her husband it is apparent that she wished she had never been married to him that she never loved him and that she is in love with Dimmesdale. Also as the story goes on she forms more into a compassionate mother figure, her compassion reaches into the community, by feeding and clothing the poor. She is careful in her ways as not to give the community any reason to take Pearl from her. A literary analysis that I found online states that she is an intelligent, capable, but not necessarily extraordinary woman. The analysis then states that it is not the woman herself but her circumstances that make her an important figure. Well to agree with that I would say that if she hadn’t gone through, and made the mistakes that she made turned the tide of this story to show that forgiveness itself is an essential part of the Christian walk. There are certain things that she does that prove her intense importance, not just to the story but to the lesson behind it. The first substantial thing that she did, to me, was how carefully she seemed to have embroidered the “A” on her dress. She didn’t do this because she was proud of her affair but in my opinion as she had plenty of time in jail to think of her crimes she pinned her chest with tender attention. That “A” represented her child and her child represented the “A”. If I had a child from a horrible circumstance I would still love my child with a love that was untouchable. The beauty of the “A” is the beauty of her baby. Something beautiful and precious came from that huge mistake. I feel like This “A” is a form of a foreshadowing moment. Later in the story Hester dresses Pearl in clothes that resemble the “A” this is a mark of understanding that Pearl came from a sin. When Hester and Dimmesdale are in the forest and she takes the “A” off and lets her hair down it is so that she can show her freedom from this curse. This also shows her need to be free, her description as free will. Her longing to go with him, to be his wife, shows her disregard for what society thinks is “right”. She doesn’t hold the “strict” virtues of what she was told to believe but that she lets her heart guide her. She had let her heart guide her all of those years of raising Pearl. When she asked Dimmesdale on his death bed if they could be together in Heaven it shows that she believes God has forgiven them. Being buried under the same tombstone as the man who she loved for all of those years is a symbol that she is still in love. Roger Chillingworth:
When he first comes into this story he wants his identity kept...