Is Hawthorne's Use Of Physiognomy In The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a novel that explores the theme of guilt and how it affects the three main characters, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. Through the use of physiognomy, Hawthorne conveys the inner qualities of these characters by describing their physical appearances. This essay argues that Hawthorne's use of physiognomy in The Scarlet Letter reinforces the theme of guilt and its impact on the characters.

One example of this is Hawthorne's description of Hester Prynne. He writes, "The young woman was tall, with a figure of perfect elegance, on a large scale... Her complexion had no more tinge of white than the cheek of a red rose" (Hawthorne 50). Here, Hawthorne's use of physiognomy to describe

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