The Puritan Community In The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Design is an imperative aspect in all aspects of society. It is prevalent in ensuring structures are safe for people, meals fulfill biological needs, and the government operates to its full potential. Similarly, authors utilize unique designs in literature to focus on their intended meaning. In fact, “the form of a story gives it meaning” (O’Connor). Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a specific structure of exaggerated power between the characters in The Scarlet Letter to aid the reader in apprehending his suggested theme: the effects of sin. In the first eight chapters of The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan Community is the force acting upon Hester Prynne, an adulteress (Ch 2, Pg 45). When the community becomes aware of Hester’s sin, they are quick to …show more content…
Roger Chillingworth is given power over Reverend Dimmesdale. Roger Chillingworth is identified as the lost husband of Hester who is assumed to be dead (Ch 4, Pg 67). When he is made aware of Hester’s adulterous acts, he makes it his goal to discover Pearl’s father (Ch 4, Pg 68). Chillingworth achieves this by adopting the role of Dimmesdale’s personal physician and discovering a branded “A” on his chest. After making this realization, Chillingworth immediately inherits information power that he intends on using negatively. His evil intentions are to seek revenge on Dimmesdale by indirectly convincing him to confess to being Hester’s partner in adultery. Meanwhile, Dimmesdale is suffering with intense ignominy. He may be highly respected in the community, but he has no power in his relationship with Chillingworth. His response to this lack of power is to keep silent. Dimmesdale does not confess until the end of the novel, and it is not a direct result of of Chillingworth’s work (Ch 24, Pg 253). Instead of confessing, Dimmesdale chooses to suffer the wrath of truth and Chillingworth’s revenge. Hawthorne uses this power imbalance after the first because it represents the effect sin is having on Pearl’s …show more content…
Dimmesdale is responsible for delivering the Election Sermon, but also intends on revealing his secret afterwards (Ch 23, Pg 248). The Puritan Community does not have control as to what the sermon is on, and is not expecting Dimmesdale to confess under any circumstances. He has hinted at being the father throughout the novel, yet they did not believe him. Because of his Godly title, Dimmesdale shocks the entire community when he reveals his secret (Ch 23, Pg 248). After confessing, Dimmesdale did not feel pain to the same extent as when he was hiding his secret because he no longer suffered through the wrath of Chillingworth of “truth”. Hawthorne concludes his novel in this manner to represent how the guilt of sin drives people to confess, no matter their social

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