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The Scarlet Letter: Fate vs. Free Will
Transcript of The Scarlet Letter: Fate vs. Free Will
Fate vs. Free Will
Fate and free will can be defined as two very different things. Fate is something predetermined, a 'predestination', if you will, that has already been decided by unearthly forces that humans have no control over. Free will is the choice to shape your own destiny, without the interference of godly beings or the limitations of a set path. Both ideas coincide. Without the other, there is an imbalance of power. They must work together to shape the destiny of human beings. But in all honesty, who is the deciding factor in ones fate? The human being living this life, or the forces beyond oneself?
Hester, on the other hand, refuses to accept her fate. Like any good protagonist, she challenges the rules of destiny and does not remain quiet when fate threatens to hold her down.
Hester is a prime example of free will, as she even goes as far to throw away the things that make her conform, stating, "By another impulse, she took off the formal cap that confined her hair; and down it fell upon her shoulders, dark and rich..." (158). Hester does not allow the devices used to burden her to make her stay that way. The scarlet letter was to be her badge of shame, but Hester made it her badge of honor. Intended to be break her, Hester broke the scarlet letter. She made it her own, and so, took control of her destiny.
And then there's this jerk.
Everyone has control of their actions. What they do is their responsibility, as human beings are not simply marionettes on strings. Fate is something that one decides of their own accord, or they let someone else choose for them. What Hawthorne is saying is that each of his characters has a choice. What Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth do affect the fate that they all share. Fate is a destiny we choose for ourselves.
Some say our destiny is tied to the land, as much a part of us as we are of it. Others say fate is woven together like a cloth, so that one's destiny intertwines with many others. It's the one thing we search for, or fight to change. Some never find it. But there are some who are led.
-From the movie 'Brave'
Dimmesdale, seeing no way out of his life
as a guilt-burdened sinner, sees his fate
as unchangeable, saying that, "'...I am irrevocably doomed'" (157). Dimmesdale accepts a miserable
life without putting up a fight. He knows that what he has done is a sin, but instead of truly repenting and moving on with his life, he sinks into a fruitless depression.
However, Dimmesdale's fate is tied closely with both Hester's and Chillingworth's. As a stagnant point in this tangled web, he does not affect their shared fate. He simply remains as he is. Dimmesdale's free will is severely lacking. He is a mere pawn used to further bring together what is to be a grander plan in the scheme of time.
Chillingworth demonstrates a mixture between accepting
. He chooses to seek revenge on Dimmesdale and, in the end, repent by supporting Pearl. These actions bring out his free will. Chillingworth's fate, however, is tightly bound to Dimmesdale and especially to Hester. As Dimmesdale dies and Hester, still holding him, approaches the scaffold, "Old Roger Chillingworth followed, as one intimately connected with the drama of guilt and sorrow in which they had all been actors..."(208). Once Dimmesdale dies, Chillingworth loses his purpose in life. Like any good villain, he is nothing without someone to antagonize or something to destroy. His fate is sealed with Dimmesdale's demise.
Changing one's fate is recognizing the free will that human's are naturally gifted with. In the Scarlet Letter, the strongest characters are the one's who are not afraid to take control of their destiny.