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Scarlet Letter Critical Thinking

  • Date Submitted: 01/04/2012 03:20 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.5 
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In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays a society suffused with people of the Puritanic culture. Inside of this civilization an immoral action occurs between a woman named Hester Pyrnne and the town’s minister, Dimmesdale. During the time the novel takes place, adultery, the sin committed, is recognized as a despicable and degrading act. The novel is based upon the aftermath of the sin enacted and how each individual deals with the consequences that come with it. Hawthorne portrays each of the three main characters realistically, for their motives, flaws, and reactions to the scandalous affair are all rational and shrewd.
    To begin, no human being is perfect; everyone in the world makes mistakes. Hester’s major mistake was her affair with Dimmesdale. This alone makes Hester a realistic character.   As Trollope says, “The reader is expected to sympathize only with the woman,—and will sympathize only with her.” (Paragraph 1, Trollope). Readers neglect Hester’s mistakes since Hawthorne makes it apparent that she feels guilty and is suffering consequences. Readers also share sorrow for Hester when she is castigated by society. “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,—at her, the child of honorable parents,—at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, —at her, who had once been innocent, —as the figure, the body, the reality of sin.” (Hawthorne 59). The emotional pain that Hester feels is also a realistic characteristic. Howells says, “…we see the human heart beating there the same as in our own time and in all times…” (Paragraph 3, Howells).
    Furthermore, Dimmesdale is also portrayed as a realistic character. His indecisiveness, his guilt, and his dogmatic behavior are all legitimate human traits. Hawthorne says, “Poor, miserable man! what right had infirmity like his to burden itself with crime? Crime is for the iron-nerved, who have their choice either to...


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