Blindness In The Scarlet Letter

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Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne exposes the blindness of the Puritan people through the treatment of Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale’s external characters. Hester Prynne is labeled as an adulteress and mistreated by society because of their unwillingness to see her true character. Chillingworth, the husband of Hester, leads the town to believe he is an honorable man and skillful doctor, when his true intents root from his vindictive nature Finally, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester’s lover and the father of her baby, acts as the perfect man therefore the town views him as an exemplar model, while he is truly a sinner. In the novel, Hawthorne portrays Hester as a strong, resilient woman, though the members of her community…show more content…
She receives three punishments from the townspeople, who claim they will free her from her sin. The community orders Hester to go to jail, wear a scarlet letter on her chest, and stand on the town scaffold for hours. Hester wears her scarlet letter proudly on her chest, and endures much suffering because of her public ridicule. Hester is “kept by no restrictive clause of her condemnation within the limits of the Puritan settlement” after she was released from prison, but she chooses to stay (Hawthorne 71). Later, Hester’s child, Pearl, symbolizes the Puritan view of Hester. When Pearl looks at her mother’s reflection in a convex mirror, she claims to exclusively see the A: “the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance. In truth, she seemed absolutely hidden behind it” (95). Hawthorne clearly illustrates how Pearl and the public choose to see Hester merely as her sin. Even numerous years later, Hawthorne suggest that the townspeople still cannot view Hester…show more content…
In the moment he sees her on the scaffold, he chooses to change his name and to never reveal his authentic identity. Instead, he uses the alias of a doctor named ‘Chillingworth’. Though not formally a doctor, his background in alchemy and knowledge of herbal remedies allow him to mislead the Puritans. He takes on the job of caring for the town reverend, Dimmesdale. Eventually, he learns this is the man who impregnated his wife, and Chillingworth begins to seek revenge. He moves in with Dimmesdale, and claims he will care for him, but the public cannot see that his intention is to torture Dimmesdale. Hawthorne explains, “The intellect of Roger Chillingworth had now a sufficiently plain path before it. It was not, indeed, precisely that which he had laid out for himself to tread. Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now, in this unfortunate old man, which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy” (126). He deliberately chooses to drive Chillingworth into insanity. On various occasions, he causes Dimmesdale to become paranoid by being ever-present and never giving him space. There is a clear connection between the amount of time Chillingworth spends with Dimmesdale and Dimmesdale’s worsening health, but the Puritan people become blinded by the

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