Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter And Human Frailty

Literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Letter and Human Frailty Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet
Letter, tells a tale of human frailty and sorrow through each and every
character. When you first meet Hester Prynne, the main character, she seems
quite innocent. Only guilty of not naming her lover. Yet she is treated like an
evil demon by the Puritan community of the 1700’s because she broke the
seventh commandment The way they yelled “at the very least, they should have
put the brand of hot iron on Hester Prynne.” (Hawthorne 69) this is a perfect
example of how the behavior of the characters tells a story of human frailty and
sorrow. Hester took great pride in everything she did from the letter ‘A’ on
her chest to the baby Pearl in her arms. It was the pride of Hester Prynne that
forced her to wear the Scarlet letter to her death. “At the final hour, when
she was so soon to fling aside the burning letter, it had strangely become the
centre of more remark and excitement, and was thus made to sear her breast more
painfully, than at any time since the first day she put it on.” (Hawthorne
242) Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, was a very old and educated man
that Hester didn’t love. Chillingworth was the most selfish in the story, he
married Hester without Hester’s love in return and this was one of the sins
that refers to Hawthorne’s “human frailty” . (Hawthorne 46) Poor Roger’s
sins are clearly defined ...“And it seemed a fouler offense committed by Roger
Chillingworth than any which had since been done him, that, in the time when her
heart knew no better, he had persuaded her to fancy herself happy by his
side.” (Hawthorne 172) Chillingworth’s attacks on Dimmesdale were to make
Dimmesdale weak and when he saw Dimmesdale’s Scarlet letter on his chest he
laughed instead if feeling for the poor desperate man. Chillingworth was the
sinner that goes with human frailty. Dimmesdale, perhaps the most complex
character in the book, is damned with the guilt of his sin “burn[ing] in
secret” (Hawthorne), and damned by his desire for Hester Prynne.
Dimmesdale’s status as a minister made the guilt so bad it was making him
sick. He needed to be open and reveal his dark secret. Dimmesdale keeping this
sin hidden was his real sin itself, by far worse than Hester’s. Everyone could
plainly see what Hester had done because of the scarlet letter ‘A’ on her
chest, but Dimmesdale on the other hand has kept his sin under his clothes and
it was literally killing him. In conclusion Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, and
Hester were all sinners, some sins worse than others. During this time period
these sins were unheard of, that is why they were treated the way they were.
These characters were a perfect example of “human frailty and sorrow”.
Hester dying wearing the scarlet letter is the darkening close.
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