Silence In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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The most influential member and most prominent figure in the Puritan community is the minister. The Puritan minister holds a position of prestige, he commands respect, and he is able to send his congregation on an emotional rollercoaster with only his words. Known for sermons that last several hours the Puritan minister is a master of public speaking, he has made it his art to preach God’s law and to strike fear or relief into the hearts of his predestined believers. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is the Massachusetts Bay Colony minister who is cherished by all who heed his fire and brimstone, yet his silence speaks volumes. Arthur Dimmesdale is not the only character who prefers silence in this novel of love and hate. Hawthorne uses various forms of silence in The Scarlet Letter to portray Hester Prynne as defiant, Arthur Dimmesdale as a hypocrite, and Roger Chillingworth as a man who covets…show more content…
At a time when women are regarded as second-class citizens and having no rights, Hester refuses to speak and in this way defies Puritan authority. Instead of crumbling under public persecution as expected, Hester’s passive resistance lifts her up and manifests itself as strength. A supposed pillar of Puritan society, Reverend Dimmesdale taunts his paramour publically and suffers the pain of his silence privately. Dimmesdale’s silence evolves into his destruction, a fate far worse than any sentence God could have handed down for his love. Chillingworth is perhaps the biggest failure of all having gained nothing by withholding his truth. Chillingworth’s silence and evil intentions result in his physical and psychological disfigurement and a lost opportunity to square up with his pastor and patient. In the end, what is not said in The Scarlet Letter achieves as much as the spoken
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