The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn begins by dealing with HesterPrynnes crime and sentence. She shows herself to be a proud woman in how sheembroiders her bright red A with golden thread to be displayed to hercommunity. She is a skilled seamstress and she doesnt seem, despite herdisgrace, to be afraid to show that about herself.
When she walked down thestreet from the prison to the scaffold, the narrator talks about her realizationof how foolish and cowardly she would be if she were to try to hide her markwith the product of her sin, her baby girl. She carries off her initial sentenceof being showcased on the scaffold with as much dignity as possible for anyonein such a situation. The reactions of the people were interesting to me; theirstrong feelings against Hester being permitted to live startled me. I realizedwhat a sort of culture and religion ruled in those times.
Also, I couldntquite imagine being in Hesters position with the kind of disgrace she wasfaced with. The narrator describes Hester as totally losing her womanly appealand beauty over the seven years of condemnation. Roger Chillingworth confused megreatly until near the conclusion of the book. When he visited Hester I wassurprised that he wanted to treat her instead of trying to harm her, but thenlater realized his motives.
He wanted no one in the community to learn thatthere was any relationship between Hester and himself at all; harming her wouldhave raised suspicions. This was vital to his plan of revenge on Mr. Dimmesdale. At first I thought that Chillingworth might have tried to seek revenge againstHester, but then came to the conclusion that he viewed her public disgrace asmore punishment than he could ever have managed.
Chillingworths revenge wasvery clever. Everyone in the town knew and respected him and this helped himgain friendship with Dimmesdale. Although I didnt understand at firstthat Chillingworth was actually poisoning Dimmesdale while he was supposed to betreating him, this aspect of his revenge made more sense, as I got further intothe book. The cruelty of it was terrible, but it accomplished his goal oftorturing him while he should have taken his rightful punishment for the crimehe committed from the beginning. My opinion of Arthur Dimmesdale changed quite abit from when I was first introduced to him until the end of the book. At firstI thought that he was a cold heartless, cowardly man for not taking his part ofthe blame in the two-sided crime of adultery.
His actions forced Hester to takeall of the disgrace on herself. I believe that her disgrace was increasedbecause there was no second person to take some of it. The townspeople looked ather as though she had committed the crime all by herself. The amount of guiltthat Dimmesdale carried with him for not confessing right away was phenomenal. The longer he waited, the harder it became for him to confess, the more hisguilt built up, and the easier it was for Chillingworth to torture him. The factthat he became physically sick with guilt amazed me, especially since I didntrealize that part of his sickness was credited to Chillingworth until later.
Hisvigil and meeting with Hester and Pearl in the wee hours of the morning on thescaffold was the turning point of my impression of him. Pearls role in thestory, I felt, was the scarlet letter come to life. This is shown in severalways. She is a product of what Hesters red A represents and is usuallydressed in shades of scarlet.
She is described as having elfish qualities abouther. Elves are most commonly thought to be mischievous and evil, which are bothcharacteristics of the adultery the scarlet letter represents. In my opinion,the most interesting aspect of Pearls character is her reaction to seeing hermother without her brand and cap when she meets with Mr. Dimmesdale in theforest. She acted almost as if she didnt consider Hester her mother withoutthe scarlet A on her dress, like she loved the A more than Hester.
The conclusion of the story began with Hesters decision to reveal RogerChillingworths identity to Mr. Dimmesdale. This decision is arrived at afterHester tries to convince Chillingworth to end his revenge on Dimmesdale. Hisrefusal to do so convinces Hester of what she needs to do. She plans to meetDimmesdale in the forest after he returns from a visit with the Apostle Eliot.
When he arrives, she sends Pearl to go play and sits down to a conversation withhim. The removal of her letter and cap are symbols of comfort and love felt byher while she is with him alone. Their discussion between the two of Dimmesdaleconfessing to his crime on the Election Day and running away together wasunexpected. I didnt pick up on their feelings toward each other earlier in myreading.
Pearls obvious contempt for Dimmesdale is also shocking because intheir previous meetings, she had not been so hostile. Mr. Dimmesdalesconfession was bittersweet with his relief and happiness at the knowledge thathe didnt have to carry his guilt to his grave, and his almost immediate deathafterwards. The ending to The Scarlet Letter sends a message of how great thepower of confession and unburdening the soul is. Through reading this book Igained insight into the world of condemned people living in the Puritan world ofearly America. I had not realized how seriously those people took the TenCommandments.
I learned how effectively revenge can be taken against avulnerable person and what sort of effect that revenge can have on a person. Most of all I learned was sort of destruction a person who is a social out castis succumbed to. Like the disgrace she encountered whenever someone saw her forthe first time, how she lost her lovely appearance, and her utter patience withher punishment.Book Reports