Essay on Scarlet Letter

Submitted By ctstanley96
Words: 3876
Pages: 16

The Scarlet Letter
1 Hawthorne uses the setting in Chapter one to set the mood for the story in two ways. The first is that the prison embodies the unyielding severity of puritan law: old, rusted, yet strong with an "iron-clamped oaken door." Puritan law is coated, in this account, in the rust of tradition and obsolete purpose. But despite the evolution of its modern society, the laws have not kept up. As a result, the door remains tightly shut and iron-clamped presenting a judgmental and condemning mood. The rosebush itself is a symbol of beauty growing out of sin. Just as a beautiful blossoms blooms out of the barbed weed, and the luxurious A is embroidered for the breaking of a sacred law in adultery, and Pearl is born of her sinful mother. This "fragile beauty" is used in Pearl to remind Hester of her sin, emphasizing a nostalgic mood the envelops the story.
2 Mistress Hibbins, the governor’s sister, pokes her head out of the window to invite Hester to a witches’ gathering. The figure of Mistress Hibbins further complicates the picture of sin. As a witch participating in midnight rituals that directly invoke the “Black Man,” one would expect her to be the very embodiment of the devil. But it is possible that Mistress Hibbins is representative not of pure evil but rather of the society she initially appears to be subverting. Although she knows she will eventually be executed as a witch, at this point Mistress Hibbins is reaping the benefits of Puritan society’s hypocrisy because the society is too focused on her class to acknowledge her as a witch.. It is notable that she appears in the background of each of the scenes in which Hester faces some sort of crisis. She symbolizes this society’s tolerance of, and even need for malevolence. Her transgressions are simply more extreme versions of the evils done by men like her brother and Reverend Wilson Governor Bellingham appears to be one of the most pious and upstanding members of the community. As he "makes the rules", he is supposed to follow them to the letter. This is why, when Hester visits his house to deliver his gloves, she is so surprised at its state. Instead of a humble abode tastefully decorated in the muted pastels and earth tones of the Puritan lifestyle, she was slightly amused (but not particularly surprised) to find very near the opposite. Before they even enter, she is struck by the opulence of the house. It had walls which were was not in accordance of the laws of hard work, sacrifice, and the "swearing off" of earthly pleasures that the Puritans abided by. In fact, it was garish and nearly gaudy, and not fitting for a man of his position. Reverend John Wilson is used to support Puritan Hypocrisy. Wilson is an aged minister who is introduced in the first scaffold scene and is quick to judge Hester. It is ironic that Wilson would preach about the love and mercy of God when he lives a two-faced life in which he chooses to judge and condemn others. These characters further illustrate the hypocrisy and pretense of virtue of the Bostonians.
3 Mr. Chillingworth can be seen at the beginning of the novel as a exceptional person; however he is also somewhat devious in the fact that he changed his name. Mr. Chillingworth's benevolent side is seen when he takes care of Pearl and Hester with only acceptable intentions even though Hester has wronged him. As the book progresses he becomes close to Reverend Dimmesdale and is issued to take care of him due to his sickly state. Because of the time he spends with Dimmesdale he discovers Dimmesdale's secret and how to decive him. Chillingworth's lust for revenge transforms him to be an evil person and eventually becomes his demise. Mr. Dimmesdale also undergoes considerable changes due the sin he bears. In the beginning of the book this man's weakness and unwillingness to confess sin as he begs Hester to come forth with her other parties name. As The Scarlet Letter progresses Dimmesdale becomes weaker