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In the book the Scarlet Letter, what "A" word would best represent Hester, Pearl,...

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frankie84 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:44 PM via web

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In the book the Scarlet Letter, what "A" word would best represent Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth?

Although Hester is the only character that is technically forced to wear a "scarlet letter," it can be said that each of the other main characters wears a figurative "scarlet letter."

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 3, 2011 at 5:58 PM (Answer #2)

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Although you realize that the book assigns two values to the letter 'A' for Hester, the others are not blatantly interpreted. For Hester, in the beginning, the 'A' represents adultery which is easy enough to tell in the woman who commits the crime. By the end, many consider Hester the town's Angel.

I would use A for Agitated when it came to Dimmesdale. He continually is put on edge because the truth nearly comes out so many times. His entire being in the book is a wrestling match with the self because of his conflict between good and evil and the unconfessed sin.

For Pearl, who is so often referred to as pure evil, I would use the word Abomination. She is the epitome of exactly what the Puritanical society worked for children to stray away from. She laughs in the face of their beliefs and seemingly allowed herself to be inhabited by the demonic.

Chillingworth likes to think he is the absolute authority. But a truer 'A' word for him would be Absorbed. He is completely obsessed with getting to the bottom of this crime and stakes his time and life on learning who and how Hester has wronged him and how he can get back at the father of Pearl.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 3, 2011 at 7:40 PM (Answer #3)

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I would use either "abusive" or "avenger" for Chillingworth.  He is abusive towards Dimmesdale and the abuse that he metes out is done in the name of revenge.  I guess that, of the two, "avenger" would be better because he feels that he has been sinned against and that he must get revenge for those sins.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 3, 2011 at 8:31 PM (Answer #4)

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I like "A" for Arthur; ironically, Hester wears the initial of her partner during the whole story, and the town never puts it together.  I suspect this because Arthur could have been Bill Dimmesdale, or Roger Dimmesdale ... so why Arthur?  Authors usually have a reason for things like names.

Arthur has particular relationships with each of the other characters you name:  "lover" to Hester; father to Pearl; antagonist to Chillingworth.  The centrality of Arthur to all the other characters gives each character a figurative "A."

 

 

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frankie84 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 3, 2011 at 10:26 PM (Answer #5)

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Although you realize that the book assigns two values to the letter 'A' for Hester, the others are not blatantly interpreted. For Hester, in the beginning, the 'A' represents adultery which is easy enough to tell in the woman who commits the crime. By the end, many consider Hester the town's Angel.

I would use A for Agitated when it came to Dimmesdale. He continually is put on edge because the truth nearly comes out so many times. His entire being in the book is a wrestling match with the self because of his conflict between good and evil and the unconfessed sin.

For Pearl, who is so often referred to as pure evil, I would use the word Abomination. She is the epitome of exactly what the Puritanical society worked for children to stray away from. She laughs in the face of their beliefs and seemingly allowed herself to be inhabited by the demonic.

Chillingworth likes to think he is the absolute authority. But a truer 'A' word for him would be Absorbed. He is completely obsessed with getting to the bottom of this crime and stakes his time and life on learning who and how Hester has wronged him and how he can get back at the father of Pearl.

Besides helping the poor what else did Hester do in order to be called an angel?

Tends the sick and dying--see chapter with 3rd scaffold scene.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 5, 2011 at 7:44 PM (Answer #6)

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For Hester, Anachronism would work as she is very much the independent woman, a feminist long before feminists existed.  She understands in Chapter VIII "the hopeless task" of women if they are to achieve independence, for they must abandon the priorities of the heart to do so.  She also perceives that there must be a reform of her Puritan society if there is to be any "mightier reforms."

For Pearl, Allegorical befits the child who is, as Hawthorne himself writes in Chapter VII, "the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life."  She is the embodiment of Hester's passion.

For Chillingworth Abhorrence ( or one already used--Abomination) could apply as his "violation of the human heart" in torturing Arthur Dimmesdale and avenging himself--"he will be mine"--upon the minister is, indeed, a detestable action as he steps outside the bounds that are human.  Chillingworth is the truly evil character in Hawthorne's novel,

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 19, 2011 at 6:58 PM (Answer #7)

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For Pearl, "airy" (as a synonym for "ethereal"), as she is often described in "otherworldly" terms. For Roger I might choose "acrimonious," as he is living with bitterness and hostility toward Arthur. Arthur is a more difficult one, as the man we see must be terribly different from the man Hester fell in love with and had an affair with despite their clear understanding about such sin. For him I choose "anemic," for he is weak and pale and listless in every way. He is a man who would be easy to miss if he did not have a pulpit from which to orate.

Lori Steinbach

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