Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter as an exemplum on pride. His creation of Hester Prynne, the protagonist of The Scarlet Letter, and her selflessness was the moral behind keeping her alive. The characters in The Scarlet Letter are nothing more than symbols representing abstract qualities and are dispensable. Names play an important role in The Scarlet Letter it is Hawthorne's way of distinguishing not just the characters but their personalities. The latter is the most important when considering Hawthorne's characters as abstract symbols. Dimmesdale is especially noted for his dark nature of concealing his association with Hester's scarlet letter. His extreme selfishness and pride blinds him from what the Bible ahs taught him and in this aspect is a one dimensional character as are the Puritans. "Whom, but the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, half-frozen to death, overwhelmed with shame, and standing where Hester Prynne had stood!" (Hawthorne 139). His extreme fear of someone discovering his secret and losing his high status is just one way Hawthorne manipulates the characters to make the novel more didactic rather than a stream-of-consciousness. "Hester recalls Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth and home, and Esther of the Old Testament, a woman who intercedes for her people and is often considered and image of inner strength coupled with beauty"(Pennell 83).
Each character is abstractly represented differently; Pearl as nature, Chillingworth as pure evil, Hester as selflessness and Dimmesdale as pride. Roger Chillingworth's
expression had been calm, meditative, scholar-like. Now there was something ugly and evil in his face" (Hawthorne 117). Hawthorne again is manipulating the characters to fit the exemplum. The easiest way to understand that the characters are in fact a symbol is to take into account the amount of themes, symbols and motifs Hawthorne incorporates in his novels. "The book is a moving series of symbols within a larger symbol...
Pennell, Melissa M. "Excerpt from Melissa McFarland Pennell 's Student C Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne ." Excerpt from Melissa M c McFarland Pennell 's Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne . H Hawthorne in Salem. 23 May. 2005 h t t p : /
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. 3rd ed. New York: Bantam B Books, 1986.
Gorman, Herbert. "Essay." George H. Doran Co.. Ed. . New York:
Doubleday & Company Inc., 1927. .
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