Gender Roles In Scarlet Letter

Better Essays
Throughout the mid-1800’s, the time period that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan society in the New England colony abided by strict codes of conduct, many of them strongly influenced by perceptions of gender roles. Here, men were perceived as authoritative figures, while women were highly condemned due to constant accusations of crimes such as witchcraft and adultery. Set in Boston during the late seventeenth century, Hawthorne’s romantic novel depicts the story of Hester Prynne, a convicted adulterer; her husband Arthur Dimmesdale, a well respected religious figure in society; and Pearl, a child born from Hester and Dimmesdale’s adultery who gradually develops throughout the novel. Through the implementation of a foil …show more content…
In his final farewell to the community, Dimmesdale shouts to the people to “look again at Hester’s scarlet letter… it is but the shadow he bears in his own breast… is no more than the type that has scarred his inmost heart… die this death of triumphant ignominy before the people” (242-243). Here, the reader has a taste of Dimmesdale’s faith in his own fate. With the scarlet letter, adultery causes Dimmesdale to be secretly condemned by Puritan law, which is seen deep in his heart. He believes that the scarlet letter inflicts on him a punishment worse than Hester’s due to his increased condemnation. Dimmesdale’s interpretation of his condemnation gives an example of the role the Puritan religion has on his fate, beliefs, and lifestyle. Being that Dimmesdale’s condemnation causes him to believe that the scarlet letter was painfully inflicted upon him due to adultery and that God decided he should die publicly, readers believe that his fate was predetermined by his religion. Moreover, in the conclusion section of the novel, Hawthorne describes that as a result of her adultery, Hester cannot find her “little Pearl,” for “none knew-nor ever learned, with the fulness of perfect certainty-whether the elf child had gone thus untimely to a maiden grave; or whether her wild, rich nature had been softened and subdued” (248). Hester felt extremely frustrated with losing Pearl, for she was a living embodiment of Hester’s sin. Pearl served as remembrance for Hester’s adultery, and losing Pearl meant losing an opportunity for such remembrance and reflection. Therefore, by losing Pearl, it can be implied that Hester possibly was further punished through Pearl’s disappearance, keeping her more lonely than previously

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Affection makes him false. He speaks not true.” (3.1,138-140) This statement is obviously clouded by grief as it is Lady Capulet after her nephew died denying Benvolio’s story is true even though several witness’ are there. This statement eventually led to Romeo’s death as it caused his banishment. Following that Paris’ grief caused his own death. The fact that grief caused his death is shown from the line “I do defy thy commination and apprehend thee for a felon here.” (5.3,76-77) This quote is Paris refusing to believe Romeo is at Juliet’s grave for any reason besides evil.…

    • 1158 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    With the inner struggle of guilt, a person can either be redeemed or destroyed. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hester Prynne is ridiculed publicly by the Puritan community for adultery. Mr. Dimmesdale, the man Hester cheats with is a young minister in the town, and hides his sin from the community. Together the two have a daughter named Pearl, that Hester raises. Pearl is a constant reminder of their sin, in which Hester holds onto public guilt, and Dimmesdale onto private guilt.…

    • 1450 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For seven years, he haunted Reverend Dimsdale 's every move, pretending to be his friend and companion. In reality, the supposed physician was digging deep into the ministers heart and soul to discover the truth he believed was hidden within: the identity of his wife 's lover. One can perceive that to this end, Mr Chillingworth gave the Reverend not medicine, but a form of light poison or an in-digest-ant intended to weaken the poor man to the point of absolute desperation. Thus, his righteous motives led to desperate actions, starting a revengeful cycle from which no good could…

    • 1050 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Lying to some people can be filled with an overwhelming guilt. This is how John Proctor felt when Reverend Hale and the judges wished him to create a false confession to witchcraft. It was important to the judges that Proctor created the false confession. Reverend Hale believes God would be more forgiving to Proctor for lying; however, Goody Proctor believes the Devil may say the same thing. If John agrees to composing the false confession, he subjects his further kin to ridicule and shame, and loses his one and only honest piece of what will be left.…

    • 444 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Seeing his beautiful wife, Hester, sin caused Chillingworth to turn evil since he became overcome with hatred towards the man who did not step up as the father, and began a manhunt for him. For Dimmesdale, the factors that caused ugliness to rot inside him was withholding his sin, while preaching constantly about the love of God, at the same time questioning his faith due to the fear of what God believed about him. No longer pure, Dimmesdale had finally lost hope as he announced, “As concerns the good which I may appear to do, I have no faith in it” (131). Not accepting his own punishment, the consequences were an internal battle with his virtue, and losing. It was a defining moment for Dimmesdale, a decision whether to be free of guilt and possibly get better, or take a turn for the worst as he give up the good in him–the last ray of beauty.…

    • 1178 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    He knew after signing this he would be an outcast, which could be worse than death. When he tears the confession paper, this symbolizes him breaking free and not giving away his life. “The Scarlet Letter” the “A” represents sin and everyone in Boston notices it and she is shunned. She was known as a sinner and he baby was the devil’s baby. She learns to live with It and except.…

    • 939 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Conversely, Roger Chillingworth acts to take revenge in The Scarlet Letter. Chillingworth is angry at Hester, who is secretly his wife, for committing adultery with Dimmesdale. He decides to use his anger to internally torture Dimmesdale without Dimmesdale even realizing by becoming his personal doctor (Hawthorne 68). Chillingworth is the most evil character in The Scarlet Letter by far, creating psychological horrors that torment Dimmesdale and Hester, who doesn’t want…

    • 1448 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Abigail had just spent a massive amount of time lying to many about how she had been a victim of witchcraft. Abigail lied about Elizabeth being a witch, and as John was telling the truth, it was seen to be a lie. This ultimatum was seen once more throughout the play The Crucible. Satire is seen when Deputy Governor Danforth stressed “But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between” (Miller 1253). In Salem, the court was seen to be God’s work and if someone was not apart of the courts or held reservations about it, they were assumed to be doing the dirty job of the devil.…

    • 1251 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Sometimes the ending really is the worse part, being on the receiving end of the terminated relationship really slays the heart. My situation would have been better if both parties could have come to an understanding. Nonetheless when a break up is one sided the other party may feel at fault and blame themselves. The effects of being broken up with can result in…

    • 799 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Then she realizes that she has tripled her sin since not only did she commit adultery and sin against her husband but her sin has corrupted her husband’s soul and now he seeks revenge. Also her failure to warn Dimmesdale led to his downfall. Hester feels wrong for causing the others greif. However it is also true that in her isolation Hester has been wandering in a moral wilderness. So when Dimmesdale claims that he does not have the strength to evade Chillingworth’s evil plan she suggests that they should run away together.…

    • 491 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays