True Identity In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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In The Scarlet Letter, a very dominant theme is the struggle of true identity. Although, the theme varies for each person; identity either tests them or puts them to shame. For instance, Pearl struggles with identifying herself without knowing who her father is while Dimmesdale struggles with being the minister of the town and the father in hiding. As well as Chillingworth who covers his own identity as Mr. Prynne and struggles with ‘needing’ to know who the real father is just like Pearl. Hester Prynne; however, is a polar opposite by how she accepts and exaggerates who she is for the most part. For example, when she makes her and Pearl’s clothing and accentuates her sin with the A, “Her own dress was of the coarsest materials and the…show more content…
Dimmesdale is the minister of the Puritans which devours him alive because of the shame and guilt of his true identity as Pearl’s father. He is so ruined that his health becomes putrid and he begins to decay in a sense. Hawthorne describes his looks, “...the health of Mr. Dimmesdale had evidently begun to fail…the paleness of the young minister’s cheek was accounted for...his form grew emaciated… his hand over his heart, with first a flush and then a paleness, indicative of pain” (92 Hawthorne). The reverend decays more and more as the guilt of his true identity lingers in his heart. Chillingworth, mostly referred as ‘The Leech’, is in a similar situation where identity tests his well being. Identity destroys Chillingworth’s soul, making him demented and even satanic in a way. His change in demeanor shows in the book, “OLD Roger Chillingworth, throughout life, had been calm in temperament, kindly...then might Roger Chillingworth have passed with them for the arch-fiend, standing there with a smile and scowl to claim his own” (99,120 Hawthorne). Chillingworth becomes so caught up in the identity of the father that the sin destroys his own identity. Altogether, truth of identity destroys Dimmesdale and Chillingworth’s identity.

In conclusion, every character faces conflict with the truth of identity differently because of the various positions the characters are in and the contrasting ways identity is shown or not shown throughout the book. Identity has an important theme by being a constant topic that readers have to go over when evaluating the characters and their emotions. It plays a significant role in The Scarlet Letter and molds the irony of the plot creating the great
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