The Scarlet Letter Notes

.. and uses his office to hide from accusations of witchcraft. She is tied in closely with the forest, and seems to know everything that goes on within this domain. B) Her worship of the Devil and her insatiable curiosity to know the happenings around her motivate her. C) Mistress Hibbins is left living with her brother, supposedly worshipping the Devil, at the end of the book.

Reverend Wilson A) He represented the spiritual facet of Boston’s everyday life. He was an elderly minister in the town of Boston. He had a few run-ins with Pearl and Hester and ministered at the bedside of the dying Governor Winthrop. B) He was motivated by his belief in God and the values of Puritan society. C) Wilson was still a minister in Boston at the end of the book.

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Themes Guilt: The theme of guilt is shown in two ways in The Scarlet Letter. Hester’s guilt as shown as unhidden guilt. Everyone knows of her sins and they scorn her for them. Hester, as a result, lives in isolation and must work to gain respect. Dimmesdale’s guilt, however, was hidden. Although revered by all, Dimmesdale was secretly tormented to know that he went through life well known and liked, while Hester went through life scorned and shunned for the same crime.

Dimmesdale’s was portrayed to be the greater of the guilt, as his torment was his alone, while Hester’s was known. Hypocrisy: The theme of hypocrisy was shown through the character of Dimmesdale. He was a sinner worse than any of the members of his congregation, but preached to them on how they must not sin anyway. He was elevated in the eyes of his listeners as Hester was scorned and detested. Yet he managed to sit through this without any sign of outward discontent to let the people know that he was, in fact, a terrible sinner. Isolation: Isolation was a major theme in the novel depicted mostly through Hester and Pearl.

Hester and Pearl were isolated from the time of the sin from the rest of the townspeople. No one wanted anything to do with either of them. Pearl responded to this with energy and vigor that made many believe she was a child of the Devil. Hester, however, responded through a steadfast grip on Puritan values which eventually rose her to a respected position in the eyes of the townspeople. Plot Summary Hester Prynne, convicted of adultery, is taken from the prison and set on the scaffold in the town square for public humiliation. This is only the beginning of her punishment, however, as she will be forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest for the rest of her life. During her stand on the scaffold, she catches sight of her husband, who has now taken the identity of Roger Chillingworth. After being released from Indian captivity, he comes to the town to find his wife with this crime upon her head.

Too ashamed to admit his relation to Hester, he conceals his identity to the town. In the prison, awaiting release, Hester is confronted by her husband. He binds her to a promise in which she says she will not reveal he is her husband. She is then released and goes to live in a small cottage on the outskirts of town with Pearl, her daughter. Chillingworth finds and attaches himself to the Reverend Dimmesdale, the man who committed adultery with Hester. He reads Dimmesdale’s soul like an open book and discovers he is the man who shared Hester’s sin.

He then begins administering drugs which harm Dimmesdale and increases the torture by his mere presence, which serves as a subconscious reminder to Dimmesdale of his sins. After years of this torture, Hester admits to Dimmesdale who Chillingworth really is. Dimmesale is angry at first, but then forgives Hester. The two agree to take a ship and sail far away from Boston to free themselves of their sins. However, after delivering his final sermon to Boston, Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold and confesses his crime. He then promptly dies.

Chillingworth, having lost his purpose in life, dies within the year and leaves Pearl his estate. Hester takes Pearl to England, where she is assumed to have married wealthy and lived a happy life. Hester herself comes back to the cottage and lives out the rest of her life with the letter on her chest. Motif Hawthorne uses several motifs to express a recurring idea throughout the novel. One such motif is the forest. The forest is used to symbolize evil, as the home of the Devil.

Allegory Hawthorne uses allegory characters to represent abstract ideas throughout the work. One such character is Mistress Hibbins, who represented the supernatural facet of the work, and in doing so, is tied in closely with the forest. Verbal Irony Verbal irony is used when a character says something that is the opposite of the truth or the expected. An example is when Reverend Wilson, in turning Hester’s inquisition over to Dimmesdale, tells the young minister that her soul is in his hands. The opposite is true, however, as a word from Hester could reveal Dimmesdale as the other sinner.

Situational Irony When a situation is the opposite of the expected. An example of this is Dimmesdale, the community’s spiritual leader, being guilty of one of the highest sins in the land. Quotes “Wondrous strength and generosity of a woman’s heart! She will not speak!” Dimmesdale p. 64 “And my child must seek a heavenly Father, she shall never know an earthly one!” Hester p. 64 “Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven, and won into his kingdom.” Author p.

127 “Once in my life I met the Black Man! This scarlet letter is his mark!” Hester p. 170 “That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart.” Dimmsdale p. 179 “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules.” Hester’s tombstone.