Four Different Scarlet Letters
---------my comments of “The Scarlet Letter”
The Scarlet Letter is a romantic fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his masterpiece. The heroine of the fiction is Hester Prynne, who conceives through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. In this book, Hawthorne not only tells a story, but also explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt..
The scarlet A on Prynne’ s dress is considered as a sign of shame. Furthermore,
she must stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation. But after reading this fiction, there are four different scarlet letters existing in my mind.
Hester Prynne is the visible scarlet letter. She was born in a decent but poor family. She has an unhappy marriage and she has not received a word from her husband for two years. It is said that her husband has lost at sea. So it is reasonable for Prynne to fall in love with Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister of her church. When their love is exposed, she is forced to wear the scarlet A for the rest of her life. For the love of Arthur Dimmesdal, she shouldered the blame and shame on her own.
However ,Prynne is not brought down by the scarlet A. The brave women embroiders the scarlet letter ,dresses her daughter Pearl. She not only defends her rights of raising her daughter, respects and cultivates her, but also be nice to everybody, just like an angel . In the author’s eyes , Prynne
is a hard-working and warm-hearted woman. The scarlet A is no longer the shameful symbol of “Adultery”, but the indications of “Able”, “Admirable” and “Angel”.
Dimmesdal is the invisible scarlet letter. Compared with Prynne, he seems to be timid. As a minister ,he lives with the accusal of his own heart . He himself loves Prynne, but he sees his affections as devil. He struggles in pain for seven years. Eventually, he bares the stigma on his chest ,but he doesn’t have the courage to admit that his love is reasonable. Unlike Prynne’s braveness and self-sacrifice, Dimmesdal
has been trapped in the religious bondage.
Roger Chillingworth is the “maker” of the scarlet letter. His ugly appearance and
misshapen body are reflections of his ugly and misshapen soul. The scarlet A means “Avenge” to him. He tortures Dimmesdal and actually, he becomes the devil who prevents Dimmesdal to atone. Although his marriage to Prynne was out of his desire for family warmth and personal happiness, it was a kind of love, unblamable. But when he turns love to hatred, treating the revenge as his only life goal, he becomes an evil sinner, a lamentable loser.
Pearl is another kind of scarlet letter, a letter that has been vested with life. She is an pure angel, rather than a result of sin. Her beauty is a strong contrast to Roger Chillingworth’s ugliness. It indicates the author’s romanticism. To Chillingworth, the
scarlet A means “Avenge”, but to Pearl, it means “Angel”. Pearl endows the scarlet A
with a new meaning, a meaning that expresses the author’s beautiful ideality.
The Scarlet Letter offers an extraordinary insight into the norms and behavior of
ththe American Puritan society in the 17 century . .It’s not simply a love story or a
story of sin. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the scarlet letters to symbolize the harshness of Puritan society, showing how they brand sinners for life. The scarlet A means differently to different people: love or hatred, conflict or condonation, evil or goodness------The Scarlet Letter is not a modern story, but the basic conflicts and problems of its main characters are familiar to readers in the present.