In The Scarlet Letter by Daniel Hawthorne many villainous acts occur that contribute to the plot and direction of the text. One antagonist in the novel is Chillingworth, the “departed” husband of Hester Prynne. Chillingworth and his constant mission to gain his wife's love and to reveal the father with whom Hester's baby was conceived by leads him to take some villainous actions. Chillingworth took many actions to obtain his goals, examples of this are constantly exemplified throughout the novel, one example is Chillingworth’s unrelenting hatred towards Dimmesdale. Other examples of Chillingworth's villainous acts consist of his hidden identity, his guilt trip use towards Hester, and overall his relentless pursuit for revenge. In the actions taken by Chillingworth he swayed the outcome of the novel.
In the beginning of The Scarlet Letter, the forest symbolizes evil and mystery. To the Puritans, who were known to be superstitious, it is the epitome of darkness and the vast unknown, since they do not likely visit the forest frequently. This would, in turn, indicate that they had minimal knowledge of the place. In
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses nature symbols including the forest, roses, sunshine, Pearl, and light and darkness to influence the plot and instills his strong romantic ideas to the readers. Through symbolism, the reader must think deeply to find the true meaning of Hawthorne 's words. Hawthorne does not depict wilderness in the same manner as the Puritans, but instead, Hawthorne’s portrayal of nature described in the story is more consistent with the romantic views of the middle of the nineteenth century when Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlett Letter. Hawthorne uses nature as a romantic source for critiquing the Puritan society, its unjust laws, and the hypocrisy of the church.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale commits a mortal sin by having an affair with a married woman, Hester Prynne. As a man of the cloth in Puritan society, Dimmesdale is expected to be the embodiment of the town’s values. He becomes captive to a self-imposed guilt that manifests from affair and his fear that he won’t meet the town’s high expectations of him. In an attempt to mitigate this guilt, Dimmesdale acts “piously” and accepts Chillingworth’s torture, causing him to suffer privately, unlike Hester who repented in the eyes of the townspeople. When Dimmesdale finally reveals his sin to the townspeople, he is able to free himself from his guilt.
He stood on the scaffold hand in hand with Hester and his daughter, resting his weight on them for his energy and liveliness was gone. At a little past noon “the sun [...] shone down upon the clergyman” showing his fragile, weak body (Hawthorne 241). It was then he confessed everything the town had wondered about for the last 8 years. Due to the fact the sun was directly above the minister he he finally revealed the truth shows that the sun is in relation to the truth. Hawthorne uses the sun to foreshadow the truth is soon to be discovered. Once all the secrets are out dimmesdale asks his daughter and Hester for forgiveness as well as God’s, he then said farewell and the crowd was silent. No voice spoke until the “murmur that rolled so heavily after the departed spirit” could be heard (Hawthorne 243). Dimmesdale was constantly in pain from not voicing his sin, and when his confession hit the air he found freedom. He became free from the pain, free from the embarrassment, and free from the ridicule. Both hester and Dimmesdale kept their unholy union hidden for so long because they believed it was for the bets. Unknowingly, they were causing more harm because they had flawed logic. They believed anyone could be free if know one else knew but in reality they only way to be free is in the truth,whether it is with an
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells not only the story of Hester Prynne’s sin, but also shows wickedness behind Roger Chillingworth’s and Arthur Dimmesdale’s public appearances. In The Scarlet Letter, the two men who both have feelings for Hester clash with each other and even themselves. Throughout the novel,
Hester is accused of adultery, and is forced by the city magistrates to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest for the rest of her life. She is forced to wear the mark, living with the “pang of it … always in her heart.” (78) Although she initially tries to degrade the negative connotation of the scarlet letter by decorating it and covering it up, she grows to accept “the scarlet letter flaming on her breast” (118), and the letter only increases her strength. The letter, although not a physical punishment, affects her more on a social and emotional level, isolating her from society and drawing ridicule from townsfolk. Her isolation leads her to connect with only a limited few, including Mistress Hibbins, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. More important than its meaning is the letter’s connection to the mark of the Black Man. The letter is a symbol of Hester’s sin, a mark telling society to stay away because of the awful evil she has committed. However, this letter A is also the mark of the Black Man. According to the “old dame[,] … [the] scarlet letter was the Black Man’s mark,” (277-278) , a symbol of one’s allegiance to the powers of evil. Hawthorne purposefully instills this connection, and forces the reader to more closely at the parallel. When questioned by Pearl, Hester sheds light on her letter, saying that she did “Once in [her] life I [meet] the Black Man” (278), and that the “scarlet letter is [in fact] his mark!” (278) Hester only internally realizes the connection between the Black Man and Chillingworth, but her claim leads the reader to understand the true relationship between the two connotations of her scarlet
Chillingworth faces a multitude of problems, but the concealed guilt transforms his body and changes his physiognomy for the worse. Originally, Chillingworth is portrayed as an innocent man with great knowledge, but after some time the studious nature that offered Hester a reason to accept his proposal changed, for the, “former aspect of an intellectual and studious man... had altogether [vanish],”(Hawthorne 145), which portrays the first inclination into the physical deformities of Roger Chillingworth after torturing Dimmesdale. What was once an innocent man free of guilt, is now a demonic person with the intent of revenge. This very message is repeated all throughout the book with Chillingworth, he was once a good man, but transformed due to the guilt he has set upon himself from marrying Hester, although he doesn’t blame her, he is after the sinner who didn’t fess up to the deeds. Visually to Hester, she has witnessed the alterations of a man who
Dimmesdale starts living with Chillingworth so the doctor can keep the feeble minister ‘healthy’; the doctor, reversely, tries to make Dimmesdale feel conflicted about his morals which leads to Dimmesdale obsessively whipping himself “...on his own shoulders” and“...fast[ing]...in order to purify [his] body… rigorously...until his knees trembled beneath him[self]...” (132). He is enveloped in his sin, and cannot escape it unless he tells the truth. In fact, Dimmesdale could not stop thinking about his sin which “...continued to give Mr. Dimmesdale a real existence [which] was the anguish in his inmost soul” (133). All that Dimmesdale has to live for his life is serving out his sentence; this is where, Dimmesdale must make a huge decision on whether he should conceal sin, or let his words roam free. When the minister is able to go into the forest, which is a place unlike Puritan society, he is able to talk with Hester, which lets him become his true self: where he is able to come out to the public of his
Roger Chillingworth first appeared “drooping down, as it were, out of the sky, or starting from the nether earth…” associated with deformity and mystery. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses diction and mass imagery to portray Chillingworth as a symbol for evil and a devilish figure.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne explores recurring themes of suffering surrounding the main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale both commit adultery with each other, and, as a result of this, both experience gruesome and occasionally unbearable forms of suffering. Though they undergo different forms of pain, both of their experiences are highly reliant on how the Puritan society treats them. Hester 's pain stems from the shame and estrangement she receives from the community, while Dimmesdale’s is due to the reverence with which the community regards him. Although, in spite of the fact that both Hester and Dimmesdale receive harsh penalty for their sin, by the end of the book, Hawthorne shows how their suffering is, in fact, the key to their salvation. The hardships and punishments of both Hester and Dimmesdale, while difficult to endure at the time, were eventually beneficial and allowed them to free themselves from the Puritan community and escape their pain.
By analyzing Hawthorne’s use of the juxtaposition of Pearl’s mannerisms and the symbolism of the weeds, it is evident that he conveys a disapproval of the rigidity of the Puritans, which establishes his blatant romanticism as an author. Preceding the following passage, Hester Prynne, an adulteress, is given a punishment by the inflexible Puritans of public shame in the form of a red A, which is then represented in the product of that sin, her daughter, Pearl. Hawthorne, after using the symbolism of the rigid, solemn trees and Pearl’s disdain for them, goes on to compare the weeds to Pearl; “...the ugliest weeds of the garden were [the Puritan] children, whom Pearl smote down and uprooted unmercifully” (Hawthorne 98). Pearl exemplifies wildness
It reveals how the character Dimmesdale evolves as time progresses, in the beginning he asks Hester to stand with him so he can confess his sins but only for a minute because he doesn't want to admit the sin. This adds to the guilt that increases with time but also foreshadows his final coming out with the truth and death caused by this action.
The narrator portrays him as an intelligent but angry old man that does not have any interest in his wife any longer unless it is plotting revenge. One theme in this chapter is something that can slowly destroy people mentally, guilt. The irony that took place in this story is that Chillingworth is trying to find the father of his wife's child. The main theme in chapter three and four is obeying the law of the people and if failed to be done it will end in punishment.