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The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a novel about three individuals whose lives are forever changed. The story takes place in a Puritan village in Boston, in the 1600’s. A woman named Hester Prynne has committed adultery and is subject to wear a letter “A” on her dress, representing adulteress. Her secret lover, Dimmesdale, does not come forth, and she does not reveal his identity. Hester’s husband, Chillingworth, becomes a sick man, living off other people’s sufferings. The act of adultery has weakened each character, and isolated them from the community.

The three characters find it harder and harder to live each day. Hester Prynne is a strong character, but she also gives in to weakness. She moves to the outskirts of town because she does not want her life to be observed by every town’s person. Although she carries herself proudly, inside she feels sorrow for herself and her child, Pearl. Hester wears the scarlet letter even though she can take it off and refuse to wear it. Hester feels every isolated from the world, because she is an outcast in the village. Villagers look at her as a bad example and a bad person.

As time goes on, Hester feels like she has to give back to the world. She feels like she has done damage to the community, and therefore Hester helps the sick and makes clothing for the less fortunate. Hester tries to deal with her situation the best she possibly can. Dimmesdale is the weakest character in the novel. Dimmesdale keeps his guilt and sin inside of his self, and by doing so it tears him apart. He does not want the village to know of his sin, because as a minister, he feels he must be looked up to. Dimmesdale keeps to himself and little by little his health fades.

He fasts and fasts until he faints and he whips himself on the back as punishment. He has so much guilt built up inside of him after years and years that he decides he must confess to the village upon the scaffold. “For thee and Pearl, be it as God shall order, and God is merciful! Let me now do the will which he hath made plain before my sight. For, Hester I am a dying man. So let me make haste to take my shame upon me! ” Dimmesdale is saying that he deserves the punishment that God will give him, and he is ashamed of his sin. Soon after Dimmesdale confesses he dies. Robert Chillingworth is a vengeful person.

After Hester appears on the scaffold for the first time, he demands that she reveal her secret lover. Chillingworth famous lines “He will be known! ” tell us that Chillingworth is determined to find Hester’s lover, and he will not rest until he does. Chillingworth’s life becomes committed to finding and planning revenge on Hester’s adulterer. When he finds out that Dimmesdale was Hester’s secret lover, Chillingworth surreptitiously plans a vengeance that no one would ever think of. He begins to destroy Dimmesdale’s mind. Chillingworth is referred to as a “leech” in the novel because he lives off the weaknesses and sufferings of others.

When Dimmesdale publicly confesses to his sin, Chillingworth has nothing to live for. His life revolved around Dimmesdale, and now that he is dead, Chillingworth’s life is over. The “leech” is an unhappy, evil man, and he soon dies after Dimmesdale’s death. Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale all became isolated from the outside world. Sin tore each of them apart, whether it was physically or mentally. The sin that Hester and Dimmesdale committed was the most dreadful aspect of their lives. Their sin made Chillingworth into an evil creature, knowing nothing but revenge. This act of adultery changed everyone’s lives completely.

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