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The Scarlet Letter, Character Development

Authors use character development to show how a person can change. Through a descriptive portrayal of a charter and their development they become real to the reader. A well-developed character stirs up emotions in the reader making for a powerful story. A person can change for better or worse and Nathaniel Hawthorne shows this thru the character development of Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter. We can see how Hester begins changing even from the beginning of The Scarlet Letter.

As the story starts Hester begins to develop a stronger and more rebellious attitude, which can be seen by the way she decorates the ‘A’ that represents the grave sin of adultery she has committed (p44). As the book progress we see Hester grow even stronger by the way she supports herself, her child born of sin, and helps the poor and sick out of the sincerity of her heart. Finally near the end of the novel we see the rebellious side of Hester evolve, symbolized by her casting the Scarlet letter to ground, as she takes control of her family, plans for escape, and a life as part of a family with the man she loves (p173).

That man who Hester loves so deeply, Mr. Dimmesdale also undergoes major changes due the sin he bears. In the beginning of the book we see this man’s weakness and unwillingness to confess sin even as he begs Hester the person he committed his sin with to come forth with her other parties name (p56). As The Scarlet Letter progresses we see Dimmesdale become weaker physically and his religious speeches become even stronger so that his congregation begins to revere him.

For a large part of the novel Dimmesdale has been on a downward spiral in terms of mental and physical health thanks to a so-called friend who was issued to take care of Mr. Dimmesdale, then because of a talk with Hester he is revitalized and given the power to do something, which he could not for seven long years. At the end of the novel Dimmesdale is finally able to recognize his family in public and confess his sin before all releasing the sin he held so long hidden in his heart (p218, 219).

Mr. Chillingworth as can be seen at the beginning of the novel is a good person but is also somewhat devious because he changes his name. Mr. Chillingworth’s good side is seen as he takes care of Pearl and Hester with only good intentions even though Hester has partly wronged him (p62). As the book progresses he becomes close to reverend Dimmesdale and is issued to take care of him due to his sickly state. Because of the time he spends with Dimmesdale he finds out Dimmesdale’s secret and how to play him psychologically. Chillingworth’s lust for revenge turn him to an evil person and eventually destroys him in the end.

Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all well developed in The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne showing strengths and weaknesses of the characters draws you closer to Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth, and makes you love or hate them. Hawthorne makes Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth become real to the reader through their development giving you a better sense of his characters. Making the characters of a novel real to the reader is important to them interested in what will happen next and Hawthorne did this in The Scarlet Letter.

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