Scarlet Letter Essay
“A tragedy need not have blood and death; it's enough that it all be filled with that majestic sadness that is the pleasure of tragedy”(Jean Racine). What is a tragedy, and what defines it? Tragedy, by Aristotle’s definition is an imitation of life in which, during the climax, something is revealed to the protagonist which causes a reversal of fortune. This reversal of fortune is caused by a flaw in the character- commonly called a "tragic flaw" or hamartia. The occurrence of a tragedy evokes catharsis, an emotional release that provides relief of the emotions pity, fear and sadness felt by the audience and in turn providing relief for the tragic hero as well. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘the scarlet letter’ is a representation of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy as Arthur Dimmesdale the tragic hero, experiences the elements of tragedy through a series of unfortunate events. From the very first pages of the novel it is prominent that Arthur Dimmesdale is not bound to have a happy ending. His intent to do what’s right is coincidentally what brings his down fall. Dimmesdale is first introduced to the reader through an omniscient point of view. He is berating Hester who is a fellow protagonist of the novel for committing the sin of adultery. It is revealed to the reader that he is Hester’s fellow adulterer and father of her illegitimate child, “He now drew back, with a long respiration ‘Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman’s heart! She will not speak!’” (Hawthorne, Page 70). At this point in the novel it is clear to the reader that a catastrophe involving Arthur Dimmesdale is soon to come. This is also the incentive moment at the very beginning of the novel which sets off the ill-fated events that are to occur. A few years later is when the story resumes and where the first of many disastrous events for Dimmesdale begin to take place. Dimmesdale is reintroduced to the reader when Hester sees him at the governor’s house while she is there to...
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