Essay about Scarlet Letter

Submitted By manningfan007
Words: 762
Pages: 4

Puritanical Vengeance Revenge is a thematic motif found in the puritanical works The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. While Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter seeks vengeance against Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale for their adulterous actions, Abigail Williams in The Crucible likewise seeks revenge against Goody Proctor for the pursuit of her husband, John Proctor. However, revenge in both novels proves to be a double edged sword, for not only do Chillingworth’s and Abigail’s victims take injury to vengeance, but so do Abigail and Chillingworth themselves. Although Puritans believed retribution was an act reserved only for God, both novels show that Puritans mercilessly follow through with vengeful acts, despite their belief that revenge is not to be sought by humans. Therefore, these novels show that revenge is an inherit trait among human character, and is a transcendent desire through the generations that is found within modern society, and will forever be an instinctive human act. Nathaniel Hawthorne presents the concept of revenge as an unnatural act that transfigures a person's soul into a black and hollow shell. Never satisfying, revenge consumes the life of Roger Chillingworth, who is absorbed into the role of punishing both Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne. Chillingworth is so intent on vengeance that he loses his human self in the process. Believing himself justified in his pursuit, Chillingworth's vengeance is seen by Dimmesdale as "blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart" (Hawthorne 161). Even though committing the sin of adultery, Dimmesdale shows the pursuit of revenge as an even more heinous crime than his. Furthermore, Hester, also an adulteress, seeks forgiveness from Dimmesdale for her keeping of Chillingworth's identity; "Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive" (Hawthorne 161)! exclaiming that only God may punish Hester for her crimes. Evans adds that Chillingworth "forgets, however, that [Dimmesdale] is known to God, the only judge who ultimately matters. Chillingworth's declaration is therefore less a sign of any disinterested concern for justice than an indication of his prideful (and sinful) yearning for personal revenge" (Evans par. 7). In addition, Arthur Miller's character Abigail Williams seeks revenge against Goody Elizabeth Proctor, for she desires Proctor's husband, John. Thus Abigail begins a wave of hysteria on witchcraft, accusing any who would compromise her quest to be rid of Goody Proctor. As said by Bryer, the "manipulative" Abigail utilizes her power to accuse Elizabeth as Abigail "gets caught up in the power she wields" (Bryer par.2). With this power, she even boldly warns "Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits" (3.796)? and is unafraid to remove anyone in her vengeful path. As the town believes she is a messenger of God to rid the town of evil, she is thought to be justified in her accusations as a suitable means for revenge. However, John Proctor realizes her intent; "I’ll tell you