The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
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How did the characters change during the story? how did the author describe the characters?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hester Prynne experiences the greatest change. In shame she accepts her fate; in knowledge and maturity she discards the appellation of "Adultress."

For example, in Ch. 3 "The Recognition" one of the townspeople remarks on her punishment: "A wise sentence! This will be a living sermon against sin until the ignominious letter be engraved on her tombstone!"...She (Hester) fled for refuge...". But by Ch. 18, "A Flood of Sunshine", Hester has rejected injustice: "So speaking, she undid the clasp that fasted the scarlet letter, and, taking it from her bosom, threw it to a distance among the withered leaves."

Hester is not the only character to experience radical change. So too does Reverend Dimmsdale. Though he thinks he is intelligent and a moral "light", Hawthorne frequently depicts him in the dark, a device with a pretty straightforwrd metaphor. However, Dimmesdale finally comes to understand just how clueless he is. By Ch 14, "Hester and the Physician," Dimmesdale begins to realize...

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