Theme Of Betrayal In The Scarlet Letter

Superior Essays
Betrayals of The Scarlet Letter
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, betrayal was a massive theme reoccuring within the main characters. The most obvious betrayal of all was Hester Prynne betraying her husband, Roger Chillingworth. Chillingworth, on the other hand, was a physician who had betrayed Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Although Arthur Dimmesdale was in fact a minister, he was not as innocent as he seemed. He, too, deceived not only Hester and Pearl, but himself as well by going against his calling as a minister. While each main character betrayed another in a different way, their response to the consequences reveals the motivation behind their deceit.
The first betrayal in the novel is committed by Hester Prynne. In The
…show more content…
Throughout the book, he managed to betray Hester, Pearl, and the whole Puritan community. Not only did he betray all of the characters mentioned, but he also betrayed himself and his calling in the process. Dimmesdale betrayed Hester Prynne by not owning up to his actions and suffering the consequences. Hester almost lost her daughter, if Dimmesdale would not have convinced Mr. Wilson to let her keep Pearl. He betrayed Pearl because she grew up without a fatherly figure in her life. When she was asked who made her, she said that she was plucked off of a rose bush by her mother (Pg. 115). The whole Puritan community was betrayed by Dimmesdale by him not being honest and confessing his sin like a minister should. He said in the …show more content…
The main characters had become accustomed to betraying one another, and it was a recurring theme throughout the book. The characters all had different reasons behind their deceits, but in the end, everyone essentially got what they had deserved. Hester betrayed her husband for the sake of her own good and nature, Chillingworth betrayed Dimmesdale to seek revenge and betrayed Hester for selfish reasons, and Dimmesdale betrayed himself and the community because he thought it was the best thing to do. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth all formed a circle of betrayal, causing different reactions to the situations, which gave The Scarlet Letter its

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    People make decisions every day that can affect someone’s life in many different ways depending on the severity of the decision. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne showcases the decisions in the form of sin in the Puritan lifestyle. The novel goes through the daily lives of New England Puritans as they struggle through the harsh punishment of sin. One of the main characters, Hester Prynne, is the first character shown to receive consequences for the sin she commits. Hester has an adulterous relationship with the minister Arthur Dimmesdale; who is idolized in the community for his holiness.…

    • 1224 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    For over a hundred years, Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic the Scarlet Letter has allowed readers to be entertained while learning valuable lessons. At the beginning of the story, Dimmesdale is seen as a prestigious church official honored by all. As the story progress, Dimmesdale becomes ill from what the people believe to be his going above and beyond his pastoral duties; however, his illness is truly caused by his hiding of his sin. He is tortured by his deceit until he finally chooses to confess. Dimmesdale’s life of hypocrisy caused him perpetual suffering which eventually led him to true repentance.…

    • 811 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In the book The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a woman named Hester Prynne commits adultery and has an affair with the the priest of the Boston community named, Arthur Dimmesdale. Roger Chillingworth, seems unaware of his wife’s undoing, until he arrived back from being a captive of the Indians and sees what others can’t in the community. Knowing that his wife cheated on him and had a child, he decides find the man involved and take matters into his own hands. Secrets are kept throughout the story between Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale , who decides to conceal his sinfulness in order to keep his Holy persona and priesthood alive in the community. Dimmesdale conforms to the community while questioning his moral values throughout the Scarlet Letter.…

    • 531 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In a scene from chapter eight of The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne describes that adulteress Hester Prynne pleads with the governor and several clergymen (including Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale), Puritan authorities who speculate that Prynne fails to pass on their Puritan Religion to her daughter, to refrain from taking Pearl away from her. Throughout this courtroom scene, Hester calls Reverend Dimmesdale forward to support her plea, which after some persuasion, in turn results in the young reverend delivering a speech on behalf of Hester, who challenges the Puritan authorities grounds to judge her. Hawthorne implies that when they come to face with Hester committing adultery, the Puritans, so unadjusted to dealing with sin, conclude that she…

    • 913 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Dimmesdale was the reverend to the puritan society in Boston, as reverend Dimmesdale job was to help other get over their sins, he was devoted to god and passionate about religion, however, Dimmesdale went against religion and committed adultery with Hester. In the book, what makes him a greater sinner than Hester is based on his actions that he performed after he had committed the sin; Dimmesdale unable to express to the puritan society caused self-harm both physically and mentally, and unlike Hester, Dimmesdale tries to hide from reality by going out only at nights and avoiding people. All in all, he would’ve been the greatest sinner in my opinion if he hadn’t he proved himself at the end of the book by confessing to the whole…

    • 448 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Though he has not faced the wrath of the townspeople, he has faced his own wrath by beating himself so much as to render “him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge” (99). Besides physically punishing himself, he psychologically punishes himself by continuing to live with Chillingworth, a physician who has made his life hell, despite being suspicious of the man early on. Consequently, Dimmesdale repents on his own volition in a way that causes him more pain than Hester’s punishment was to her. When asked whether she suffers less due to outwardly displaying her shame in the form of the scarlet letter, he replies that he “do[es] verily believe it” (87). Hester’s own guilt is quelled because she has learned to be truthful and open about her faults to both herself and others.…

    • 1165 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s main motto in The Scarlet Letter is “be true, be true, be true, show freely to the world.” Pearl, Hester Prynne’s daughter, and Roger Chillingworth, Hester Prynne’s estranged husband, have similar roles throughout the novel, yet they have extremely different motives and tactics in order to achieve their goals. Pearl and Chillingworth both have the task of attempting to get Hester Prynne, a young mother and accused adulteress, and Arthur Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister, to be true to themselves. Firstly, Pearl wants Hester to stay true to herself and wants Hester to reveal who Pearl’s father is. Secondly, Pearl wants Dimmesdale to confess that he is her father and that he committed adultery with her mother, Hester.…

    • 1131 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both Dimmesdale and Hester have grievously sinned in the eyes of the Puritan community. However, while Hester lives with her guilt publicly displayed in the form of the scarlet letter and Pearl, Dimmesdale hides his sin from the community and tries to continue as their saintly pastor. Yet, this concealment is not without consequences, as Dimmesdale suffers from horrible guilt as he denies his sin from his community, and thus denies himself forgiveness for his sin. Finally resolving to tell the truth on his deathbed, Dimmesdale dies after triumphantly defeating Chillingworth, his personal tormentor. However, though Dimmesdale manages to overcome Chillingworth, he further succumbs to his own internal…

    • 1799 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    His failing health became an outward representation of his sinful heart, and he was plagued by guilt throughout the book because he lived a life devoid of repentance. By the end of The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale realizes that he can no longer live under the burden of his secret sin, so he confesses it with his last breath before God and all of the townspeople. Committing adultery with Hester Prynne was definitely seen as one of the vilest sins in the Puritan community, and Dimmesdale would have faced punishment similar to the sentencing of Hester; however, living with the guilt of his unconfessed sin destroyed him and pushed him away from God with no hope of…

    • 1467 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    When he is around Hester and Pearl, or reminded of his guilt he clutches his heart in pain. Along with the physical pain in his chest caused by his guilt, he inflicts pain on himself by starving himself, denying himself sleep and whipping himself. Dimmesdale attempts to deal with his guilt “by inflicting a hideous torture on himself”. These self-destructive acts cause him to be in more pain, instead of the intended result which was to help him deal with not confessing his sin by punishing himself. Hester’s guilt also had an affect on her physically, after 7 years of dealing with her guilt her physical appearance changes drastically.…

    • 1098 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    During the entirety of the novel, Hester Prynne’s adultery and punishment is publically recognized; her personal remorse concerning her sin, however, is not so evident. It is obvious that Hester recognizes her sin, for “she knew that her deed had been evil.” (61) She knows she must endure…

    • 1057 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Hester and Dimmesdale say their goodbyes, Dimmesdale then dies and he is relieved of his sins (p. 206-210). Both characters are relieved from their sins in the end, but they suffer more from private punishment than from public punishment. Carpenter states that, Dimmesdale sinned through passion and hiding what he did, so his punishment was greater than Hester’s (p.293). If he would of told the town what he did, his private punishment would have been lighter due to him not feeling as much…

    • 1026 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Roger Chillingworth commits perhaps the worst sin in “The Scarlet Letter”. From the moment Chillingworth found Hester standing in public ignominy on the scaffold, he sought revenge on the man who betrayed him. He devoted the rest of his decaying life to enact malevolent vengeance on Hester’s fellow adulterer. After suspecting Dimmesdale to be the father, Chillingworth became the pastor’s personal physician.…

    • 1065 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The event that, greatly influenced the outcome of the Scarlet Letter was that Dimsdale did not admit to committing adultery until the end. Dimmesdale's decision of not confessing of his sin ate at him until he withered down to almost nothing. He was unable to see his wife and daughter in public without being scrutinized, while at the same time chillingworth was fighting trying to reveal who the father of Pearl was. Chillingsworth would be furious with Dimmesdale, trying to get him to confess, which put more strain on his frail body and soul. Dimsdale is also a priest, so he should be an example of how to live without sin, so if he did confess, he would most likely be thrown out of the church for committing adultery.…

    • 179 Words
    • 1 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Hester having her guilt public lets her be forgiven for her sin and freed from carrying the pressure of keeping the sin secret. Dimmesdale, on the contrary, suffers tremendously from private guilt. He lives in constant fear that his sin will be revealed. Throughout the novel, Dimmesdale gets mentally and physically destroyed my his private guilt. During the procession in front of the entire Puritan community, Dimmesdale decides to confess to the sin of adultery, and that ““there stood one in the midst of [the community], at whose brand of sin infamy [the Puritans] have no shuddered!””…

    • 1450 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays