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

  • Improved Essays

    When she fell short he admitted to everyone that he had an affair and that Abigail was jealous and that she was lying by accusing his wife. Jon falls short because everything gets turned against him. He wife lies about what John Proctor said. When his wife tells him to confess he does it for her because he knows he has been a bad husband to her and he is hanged. The very last line of the play reads, “He have his goodness now god forbid I take it from him” (line 781).…

    • 1780 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The concept that started the entire tragic story was that Chillingworth left his wife for seven years. Chillingworth left Hester alone and afraid, she was unaware of anything. Chillingworth admits that he wronged Hester but still allows her to be treated badly “ ‘We have wronged each other’ answered he. “Mine was the first wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into false and unnatural relation with my decay.’” (Hawthorne 70) Chillingworth knew that he betrayed Hester and did not do anything to try and correct it before it was too late. Roger Chillingworth also attempted to use his job in order to kill his wife’s partner.…

    • 758 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    While Hester could openly admit to the sin she has committed and deal with her punishment, Dimmesdale had to put on a face and uphold his religious position in society. Out of all the characters in the novel dealing with sin had the greatest toll on Dimmesdale, causing him to go insane and physically ill. Because of this the Hawthorne portrays Dimmesdale as one of the most conflicted characters in the book. Dimmesdale cowardice and selfishness certainly influence the reader’s perspective on him, especially when he could come forth about his sin in other situations. “Believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life." (65) In this scene, Dimmesdale has an opportunity to finally admit to his sin, but instead he encourages Hester to do the admitting for him.…

    • 1061 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior 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
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    John admits to his affair with Abigail in an attempt to discredit her. He confesses his adultery to the judges while trying to save those who Abigail has falsely accused: “I have known her, sir. I have known her” (Miller 1309). John was ashamed of his sin, but he does not allow this to stop him from revealing the truth, as the truth has the possibilty of freeing everyone. By ruining his own name and confessing his sins, he has the opportunity to put a stop to all of the lies created by Abigail and the other girls.…

    • 1018 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Proctor also knows that he is the sole reason that Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft, which is another reason why Proctor feels as though he has betrayed his spouse. He knows that the affair that Abigail and himself had is the entire motivation Abigail has for trying to get rid of Elizabeth and therefore the reason she is accused. So, Proctor actually has two reasons for feeling shame, but both tie back to him feeling as though he has abandoned and disappointed his wife in some way. This could be either for breaking their trust or for causing her to be accused of witchcraft. Similar to Dimmesdale, Proctor cannot confess what he has done and cannot tell anyone because it will ruin his name in Salem.…

    • 1971 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    His secret shapes him into an evil, mean, manipulative person. When Hester committed adultery both men were worried about what everyone would think. Chillingworth did not want Hester to tell everyone who she committed adultery with because he wanted Dimmesdale to suffer with guilt. He also did not want Hester to tell everyone that he was her husband. Chillingworth was gone for so long that the townspeople forgot about him.…

    • 1048 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Curtis Karner Mrs Markovich ENG3U In the play Othello by William Shakespeare the theme of betrayal has an effect on many of the plays characters. Othello and Rodrigo both endure a crippling betrayal at the hands of the sinister Iago. Iago betrays his General Othello by trying to ruin his relationship with Desdemona through a series of devious acts designed to get revenge on Othello for not promoting him to Lieutenant. Iago betrays his friend Rodrigo by using his deep lust for Desdemona against him, he uses Rodrigo’s stubbornness to manipulate and ultimately betray him. Both these characters make the mistake of trusting Iago which results in their downfall.…

    • 1119 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Ideate the open discussion of every immoral act you have ever executed. Although most are well hidden within our minds, inquities are now deemed a social norm. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, sins are portrayed as a direct disobedience of God. Hester Prynne is shamefully branded with the letter “A” as a representation of her adultery, while Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester’s partner in crime, chooses to keep his offense confidential. Both are disgraced from their community, though one is anonymous.…

    • 1001 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Another example is in Act IV were John's mind is so corrupt because of the affair and his series of lies that he has made that he finally snaps and confesses. This snap came about when John was being forced by Danforth to sign a document that makes him lie that he is a witch so that he can save his life. However, the broken mentality John makes him say the statement “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (4.250) This quote that John makes relates to lying cause a greater harm than good because John rips the document up after stating the quote which shocked the community of Salem and Elizabeth. However, since John rip up the document his actions showed to Danforth,…

    • 792 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays