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The Scarlet Letter: Identity

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Ashleigh Shaw

on 7 February 2014

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Transcript of The Scarlet Letter: Identity

The Scarlet Letter By: Nathaniel Hawthorne Roger Chillingworth Project By: Ashleigh Shaw Identity vs. Society Hester Prynne Protagonist Pearl's mother adulterer In the Puritan society of Boston, Hester
is harassed mercilessly for
her adulterous actions.
She is forced to wear a Scarlet A.
The Puritans force her to wear it a symbol for her sin, however she is never required to remain in Boston. Hester stays however, and her decision comes from

her sin, ignominy, were the roots which she had struck into the soil. It was as if a new birth, with stronger assimilations than the first, had converted the forestland, still so uncongenial to every other pilgrim and wanderer, into Hester Prynne’s wild and dreary but lifelong home (70). Even if Hester went back so England or anywhere else where no one knew her, she’d have to deal with the guilt. She doesn’t accept her scarlet letter because of society, but because of her own religious beliefs and intentions. She wants to redeem herself for her sins and believes that this is the way God made it, not the Puritans. Arthur Dimmesdale minister Pearl's father town leader Dimmesdale represents society’s ideal individual. He’s a minister, and is supposedly holy and of outstanding personage. However, he defies society’s standards and becomes what he preaches against, a sinner. His sanctimonious nature is displayed as “every successive Sabbath” (Hawthorne 108) he appeared to the community as their pious minister intent on serving the community. Dimmesdale also faces the difficulty of dealing with the guilt he faces for defying the communities trust. The guilt takes a physical toll on his body as he is unsure who he is and how he fits in society since he has sinned. At one point, Dimmesdale becomes so overcome with grief he stands on the scaffold where Hester received her punishment. The guilt has overtaken his body to the point where he cries out in pain against his will. He begins harming himself in an attempt for redemption, an attempt to once again be the wholesome Minister Dimmesdale (Hawthorne 133). In society, Chillingworth was well received because he dealt with the “health of the good town of Boston, so far as medicine had aught to do with it, had hitherto lain in the guardianship of an aged deacon” and for all of his help healing Dimmesdale (Hawthorne 106). In reality, Chillingworth was a cold and evil man who was spending the remainder of his life enacting revenge. Chillingworth was pusillanimous, hiding his true identity as Hester’s husband behind the façade as Chillingworth, a doctor. While the town thought of him as goodhearted and kind, he had many instances where he was comparable to Satan. Upon discovering a mark that etched Dimmesdale's chest, Chillingworth acted like Satan does when he “comports himself when a precious human soul is lost” (Hawthorne 124). His cruel nature is undeniable as he 'cares' for Dimmesdale, providing him with herbs that never once helped cure him. Instead he rejoices like Satan upon finding Dimmesdale in pain. callous Hester's husband posing as a doctor “...happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release...”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne http://theapplewoodstudio.com/zoom/984x588/2232862.html
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