Hawthorne's Use Of Irony In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850-bestselling, romance novel, “The Scarlet Letter” centers around adulteress Hester Prynne, doctor-tormentor Chillingworth and Minister Dimmesdale.
Hawthorn effectively uses irony to develop his characters by writing their reactions opposite to what is expected of the audience; Hawthorn is effective in this because Hester, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale’s reactions are consistent throughout the entire novel. Hawthorne’s use of irony developes Hester’s toughness, Chillingworth’s cruelty and Dimmesdale’s weakness.

To begin with, Hawthorn’s use of irony develops Hester’s strength. Typically, irony is defined when reality is the opposite of one’s expectations. Hester’s strength is first shown at the scaffolding. It is the
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This is completely ironic since Hester was previously intent on leaving the colony with Dimmesdale and that the scarlet letter has caused her so much physical and emotional pain. Nobody would expect anyone to return to that, to the place of their suffering and to choose to keep wearing the object that inflicted it. This irony develops Hester’s strength. Unlike Dimmesdale who dies from his guilt, Hester bears it calmly for the rest of her life. Hester, faces the consequences of her sin eventhough she doesn’t have to because, “Here had been her sin; here, her sorrow, and here was yet to be her penitence”. Thus, Hawthorne's use of irony in the scaffolding scene, the colonists’ view of Hester and her letter, and Hester’s final decisions all develope Hester’s …show more content…
Hawthorn uses both situational and dramatic irony to show this. Dramatic irony is used when the audience knows something the characters do not; Hawthorn makes the Pearl’s father’s identity known to the audience, but unknown to most of the Puritan colony for the majority of the novel. Which creates events that include a great deal of situational irony. First and foremost, it is very ironic that Dimmesdale, whom is a pastor, would lead one of his church goers to sin. The existence of the affair is ironic, and this develops Dimmesdale character in that he has no self control or willpower. Hawthorn uses more irony to throughout the novel to develop this character trait in Dimmesdale. Hawthorne’s use of irony brilliantly portrays Dimmesdale as a coward. For example, Dimmesdale evades admitting he was Hester’s lover. Dimmesdale evades confession on the scaffolding during Hester’s punishment, during sermons and again on the scaffolding at night. Even Though Dimmesdale can reveal his identity on the scaffolding when Hester is being humiliated, he does not speak up for himself or her. Instead, he tries to pressure Hester into doing it for him when he states, “I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow sinner and fellow sufferer.” This ironic situation where someone guilty of a shared crime asks the other person to confess for them is very telling of Dimmesdale’s character. It shows that he prioritizes his

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