Certain pervasive themes reoccur in Hawthorne’s stories. Explain which adult main character goes with each theme in The Scarlet Letter.These include: the individuals isolation from the community;...

Certain pervasive themes reoccur in Hawthorne’s stories. Explain which adult main character goes with each theme in The Scarlet Letter.

These include: the individuals isolation from the community; the influence of the past on the present; the consequence of sin and guilt; and the limitations of self-reliance; the evil of manipulation.

Expert Answers
MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dimmesdale, Hester, and Chillingworth all relate to the consequences of sin and guilt. Each is suffering in their own way for choices they have made. Hester is shunned for her perceived sin. Chillingsworth becomes increasingly deformed physically and mentally, as he sucks the life from his victim. Dimmesdale grows weaker with every passing day, crippled by his overwhelming guilt for betraying his love and his flock at the same time.

Hester also becomes isolated from her community. She is physically isolated, in that her hut is far from the boundaries of the town, and people give her a wide berth when she walks down the street. She is also isolated spiritually, in that she cannot participate in town religious services, nor pray with others. She is also isolated socially, and lives without friends or kindness.

Chillingsworth is the best example of the evils of manipulation. He is like a psychic vampire, feeding on Dimmesdales' pain and torment, torturing himself in the meantime. Not only does he slowly destroy Dimmesdale, bringing him to his final confession and ultimate death, but he destroys himself as well, falling prey to his own consuming evil.

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The Scarlet Letter

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