Character Foils In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Character Foils In The Scarlet Letter Those who contrast each other make for engrossing storytelling. Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates this truth often in his romantic narrative, “The Scarlet Letter”. The novel tells a despondent tale of a woman convicted of adultery who must live out her shame condemned from society by the embroidered scarlet “A” she is commanded to wear while perpetually haunted by her estranged husband who is on a self proclaimed undertaking to find her lover. Through the text, the reader is hastened through a multitude of feelings for the few main characters they meet. Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth are a set of character foils through their opposing physical descriptions, contrasting mental states, and their driving motivations throughout the novel. Chillingworth and Dimmesdale are made clear contrasting characters early on in the novel through their blatantly conflicting physical descriptions. Dimmesdale is introduced early on in the third chapter and is described as “ A person of very striking aspect with a white, lofty, and impending brow, large, brown, melancholy eyes, and mouth… expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self restraint” …show more content…

The reader is especially made aware of Dimmesdale's mental state in the eleventh chapter, “His inward trouble drove him to practices more in accordance with the old, corrupted faith of Rome, than with the better light of the church in which he had been born and bred” [150]. This suggests that he is racked with immense guilt and shame at the falsehood he is living and suggests that he is physically abusing himself as a result of this guilt. This directly contradicts Chillingworth's mental state of fury and vengeance that he falls deeper into as the story progresses. These two characters also hold striking incongruities as to what drives them onward as the account

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