Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Free Essay - Evil in Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter :: Scarlet Letter essays
Evil in the Scarlet Letter One belief that people live by is that evil is the nature of mankind, yet there are others that feel man has good intentions but those intentions can be overrun by the devil. Nathaniel Hawthorne points out that the former is true of all people in the novel The Scarlet Letter. In this novel, there are three main characters who commit evil and sinful acts, but each act is at a different degree of sinfulness (i.e. the sins get worse as the story goes a-long). These three sinners, in the eyes of the Puritan community, are the beautiful Hester Prynne, the esteemed Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and the cold-hearted doctor, Roger Chillingworth. Like Hawthorne, I believe that evil is the nature of man but that there are different magnitudes of evil; some choose to fight it, like Hester, and some choose to give in, like Chillingworth. Hester Prynne, a strong willed and brave woman, in respect to the two additional people, has committed the least amount of sin in the novel. In the eyes of the Puritan community, though, she has committed one of the worst possible sins that can be imagined: adultery. They feel she is horrendously corrupt, yet it is not truly her fault. Hester is the victim of her husband, Roger Chillingworth's (formerly Roger Prynne) stupidity by sending her to New England by herself, while he remained in Europe. Chillingworth even admitted that it was his fault when he voiced, "It was my folly! I have said it. But, up to that epoch of my life, I have lived in vain."(Ch.4, p. 68) Hester is also a victim of fate. She has no way of knowing if Chillingworth is dead or alive when the Indians capture him after he arrived in North America. She still goes against the strict Puritan rules, and breaks Commandment 7, which was often punished by death. Arthur Dimmesdale is a strong pillar of the community and a very devoted Puritan. What could he do that is worse than young Hester Prynne's appalling act of adultery? Well he goes a little further into the same sin. First of all, he commits adultery with the abandoned Hester. Then instead of admitting his sin to the public, he keeps his dark secret in his heart, knowing it will eat at him for the rest of his life until he reveals it.