Puritanism In The Scarlet Letter Essay

1583 Words 7 Pages
Puritanism was a tightly controlled, super “pure” type of Christianity that was present in some colonies during the earliest days of American society. Nathaniel Hawthorne focused on colonial Boston back in its Puritan Era to tell a fictional story of failed love in The Scarlet letter. Hester Prynne faced many obstacles as the protagonist. Her struggles were social and internal, with the guilt of unforgivable sin constantly weighing down on her well-being. However, the true antagonist of this story was Roger Chillingworth, the ex husband of Hester Prynne. After he found out that his wife had long abandoned her love of him in exchange for that of another man, he gained an unwavering lust for prolonged, secretive revenge upon both lovers. Upon …show more content…
Additionally, Chillingworth felt a need to find Hester’s lover. He told Hester, “There is a sympathy that will make me conscious of him. I shall see him tremble. I shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unawares. Sooner or later, he must needs be mine!” (Page 73). In the line, Chillingworth spoke of Hester’s mystery lover (later revealed to be the minister Dimmesdale). Chillingworth expressed that he would stop at nothing in his effort to acquire control of Hester’s partner in sin. On top of this, Hester was to tell no one of Chillingworth’s identity so as not to compromise his investigation and ultimate revenge. Chillingworth explained in his request, “Enough, it is my purpose to live and die unknown. Let, therefore, thy husband be to the world as one already dead, and of whom no tidings shall ever come. Recognize me not, by word, by sign, by look! Breathe not the secret, above all, to the man thou wottest of. Shouldst thou fail me in this, beware! His fame, his position, his life, will be in my hands. Beware!” (Page 74). Chillingworth solidified his request for anonymity with a promise that he …show more content…
This is not to say that Hester did not face other challengers in the story. The other most impactful opposer of Hester Prynne was society. The people of Boston showed her no respect for a very long time. Simply taking a walk through the community would bring her humiliation. However, the reason that society was not the antagonist in The Scarlet Letter was the fact that after years had passed, Hester was gradually welcomed back into society. While not fully trusted by the people, her scarlet letter “A” that she donned on her chest shifted meanings in the eyes of the people. Once a symbol of shame, meaning “Adulterer,” the scarlet letter shafted to mean “Able” in the eyes of the community. For this reason, Hester could lead a somewhat normal life. While Hester regained the respect of the community, Chillingworth was still tormenting his greatest enemy, Dimmesdale. Chillingworth was the true antagonist because he never held back on his course of revenge. He told Hester from the beginning that he would find her lover and seek his revenge. When asked to release Dimmesdale after years of tormenting him, Chillingworth refused. The final straw was when Chillingworth interfered with Hester and Dimmesdale’s plan for escape. Due to his constantly arising, menacing courses of action, it was evident throughout the entirety of the book that the embodiment of Hester’s

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