19 May 2013
Portraying the Scarlet A within the Characters
In reality, the Scarlet Letter is many things. It has all the characteristics of a modern-day soap opera, but it is way more than some television show cast on ABC. It could be a sermon being shouted from a church attendee, but no; the Puritans are surely not the heroes in this novel. It could be a story of failure, for there are many failures cast upon the main characters, or it could be a story of revenge from an angry husband. And, maybe it could even be a story of creativity-- the attempt of one to see their artistic side in a community who disapproves a mind of imagination. The ...view middle of the document...
Hester, too, makes a meaning of the scarlet letter she wears. She gives the community an immediate clue to what her attitude is when she embroiders the letter in golden thread and wears it for all to see. “She bore on her breast, in the curiously embroidered letter, a specimen of her delicate and imaginative skill, of which the dames of the courts might gladly have availed themselves...” (73). The community is outraged by the mockery of her punishment by making the plain symbol of her letter into a beautiful decoration. “If the ‘A’ we have seen, has a wide range of human nature, both of its base and angelic qualities, then in assigning her an A of scarlet, the community shows that it regards human nature, especially passion, to be devilish. It seems Hester does this to change a horrible thing into something of much beauty; and, it seems she is ashamed of her human nature by the way she used to dress in bright beautiful colors to plain, grayish clothing with her hair hidden...” (Johnson). As her A is worn on her bosom, it seems to relieve her of her pride, and downgrade her attitude and presence. Over Hester’s course of wearing the letter, it seems to absorb the life and attitude out of her.
Reverend Dimmesdale, too, actually or metaphorically, wears a scarlet letter over his heart and is constantly aware of it, while hiding it from the community. “The physician advanced directly in front of his patient, laid his hand upon his bosom, and thrust aside the vestment that, hitherto, had always covered it even from the professional eye” (126). Ultimately, instead of accepting the truth of his nature, he is tortured by it and tries his best to change it. “Just like everyone else, he wears a scarlet letter, although his, is hidden by a life of saintliness and good-heart” (Ryskamp). Not only does he live a life of self-deception, but he also shows other dark aspects of human nature, depicted by the scarlet letter A. All together, the “A” he is guilty of is ambition, to which he will sacrifice everything.
Chillingworth and his connection to the scarlet letter may be the worst of all in the Puritan community. He, in some way, is always identified as the devil’s missionary or the devil himself, this trait shown from the moment he finds the wound on Dimmesdale’s bosom. “But what distinguished the physician’s ecstasy from Satan’s was the trait of wonder in it” (126). Pearl sees him first as a devilish figure;...