Which scenes in The Scarlet Letter best show the main characters' physical and emotional changes?

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There are three main characters in the novel, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth. All of them have been affected personally by their sin. Hester is forced to wear the scarlet "A" on her breast because she committed adultery. This has made her a social outcast and forced her to live at the edge of the town. She keeps herself busy with needlework and does not talk much about her past. She does not have any friends in Boston and she never speaks about herself or about what she did. Hester's appearance reflects upon her life, since she refuses to take off the scarlet letter that she had to wear as punishment for her sin.

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In The Scarlet Letter, the outer appearance of characters typically reflects their inner state.

Hester is described as having a rather severe appearance. She was once considered quite passionate and beautiful, so her sudden change is all the more notable. However, during the scene in the woods where Hester and Dimmesdale make plans to run away together, she lets down her hair and tears off the scarlet letter, which makes her seem younger. When Pearl insists that Hester put her hair back up and pin the letter back on, she returns to her sadder, more remorseful self, showing how there is no going back to the youthful person she once was.

Dimmesdale grows physically weaker throughout the story, his guilt manifesting as illness. His frailty seems to play up his pious reputation with the community members, who view him as a saint. During the scene in the woods, Dimmesdale too seems healthier for a while, believing he too will be able to escape his sin, but, just as with Hester, reality hits him in the face, and his health continues to waver.

Chillingworth's malicious personality manifests in a grotesque outer appearance. While never handsome, he became more warped-looking after learning how Hester cuckolded him. His evil marks him physically.

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Chapters 9&10 give details of Chillingworth's physical appearance, and how his countenance seems to reflect the evil that is within him.

Chapters 11&12 give details of Dimmesdale's failing health.  Ironically, as he grows physically weaker (the result of inward guilt), he grows outwardly more popular, and to his parishioners, more and more "pious."

Chapter 13 chronicles the first of Hester's major changes, both physically and emotionally.  While she grows older (and less beautiful) on the outside, she grows wiser and more empathetic on the inside.  Arguably, her beauty is moving inward.

Chapters 20 and 21 focus on the physical and emotional changes in both Hester and Dimmesdale, as in the forest they are allowed to really look earnestly at and talk to each other for the first time in many years.

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How do Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth change physically, emotionally, and spiritually in The Scarlet Letter?

To add on to the previous response:

1. Hester begins the novel almost immediately.  In the second chapter of the novel, she is talked about by the women of the town as a "hussy," and only one of the gossips encourages the other women to consider that all are sinners; Hester just happened to be caught.  When one is immediately seen as such a pariah, one naturally acts as such.  Yet Hester, though she boldly embroiders the scarlet letter on her bosom, does not actually act that bold throughout the novel.  Instead, she takes on her sin and attempts throughout her life to atone for it.  In chapter 5, Hawthorne comments on the fact that Hester could have fled town and returned to England, but instead, she stayed (although at the edge of town) and used her needle-work skills to make a living: 

Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby’s little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead. But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigor with which society frowned upon her sin. (Chapter 5)

Thus, socially, Hester was eventually accepted, and while at first the memory of her sin would stay with the townspeople, that memory, too, would fade.  By the end of the novel, the "A" that was emblazoned on Hester's chest came to stand for "angel" instead of "adultery" because of the very acts that Hester showed to those in the town.

2. Spiritually, Dimmesdale's change is interesting to note from Hawthorne's perspective.  Because Hester was able to confess her sin (even though she did not want to), she was able to unload the guilt associated with it.  Dimmesdale, on the other hand, kept his secret to himself, which is why he physically harmed himself, carving the "A" into his chest.  When Dimmesdale finally confesses his sin to the congregation, the release of that sin causes him to die.  Had he confessed during the multiple opportunities he had in the novel, he may have been able to live a full life.

3. With Chillingworth, again Hawthorne's commentary is interesting to note because it focuses on the use of magic and other dark arts.  Throughout the novel, Chillingworth is viewed as a doctor, but he does not follow the traditional medicinal protocol.  He mixes Native American herbal remedies with other scientific concoctions.  Because this novel portrays a Puritan society, who would have viewed these types of remedies as black magic, Hawthorne shows the hypocrisy of such views.  Chillingworth was a good doctor, but at the end of the novel, Hawthorne writes, "Others contended that the stigma had not been produced until a long time subsequent, when old Roger Chillingworth, being a potent necromancer, had caused it to appear, through the agency of magic and poisonous drugs" (Chapter 24).  The town had viewed Chillingworth as a saint until the point when Dimmesdale revealed his sin and collapsed.  That act ruined Chillingworth as well.

Hawthorne uses these three characters to reveal his view on sin and guilt in Puritan society and in his own society.  While humans want to place the sin on others, they do not realize their own sin and its effects on their lives.  

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How do Hester, Dimmesdale and Chillingworth change physically, emotionally, and spiritually in The Scarlet Letter?

This question encompasses the entire novel and cannot really be answered in the detail you want in this short space. I suggest you consult the links below for more information.

1. Hester changes from a woman who flaunts her sin by wearing a beautiful dress and skillfully embroidering the letter "A" to a woman who is dressed more conservatively and is stronger both emotionally and physically than she is at the beginning of the novel. This is because she her sin is open and she learns from her mistakes.

2. Dimmesdale becomes weaker and weaker as the novel continues. He agonizes over his hidden sin, to the point that he puts his own secret letter "A" on his chest. He tries to confess publicly, but stops his confession many times until the end of the novel. The stress of the public confession is too much for his heart and he dies.

3. Chillingworth becomes totally focused on revenge during the novel. This has an effect on him physically as he becomes more and more deformed. Hawthorne says he was initially a fairly kind healer, but he becomes almost devilish in his search for revenge. After Dimmesdale dies, he has nothing more to live for and he withers up like the leech he has been described as, and dies.

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How does the author relate Chillingworth's and Dimmesdale's physical appearances to their mental, emotional, or moral states in The Scarlet Letter?

A good place to start in answering this question would be Chapter Ten, entitled "The Leech and his Patient." This gives us a real insight into both of these two characters and the way that their appearance is shaped by what is going on within them.

Note how Chillingworth's eyes are referred to in a frightening, almost supernatural way as he engages in his work as a "miner":

Sometimes, a light glimmered out of the physician's eyes, burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or, let us say, like one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from Bunyan's awful doorway in the hillside and quivered on the pilgrim's face. The soil where this dark miner was working had perchance shown indications that encouraged him.

Clearly this description of the "blue and ominous" light that is compared to the "ghastly fire" indicates how Chillingworth is depicted as an almost demonic or evil character in his determination to find out Dimmesdale's secret.

When we consider Arthur Dimmesdale, you might want to think of the final paragraph in Chapter Nine in terms of how the description we are given of him reflects his inner anguish:

Alas! to judge from the gloom and terror in the depths of the poor minister's eyes, the battle was a sore one, and the victory anything but secure.

Clearly, the inner guilt that dominates Dimmesdale's "spiritual sickness" is impacting his physical appearance and making him appear sick, pale and distraught.

Thus both characters' physical descriptions are shaped by what is going on with them internally. On the one hand, Chillingworth's somewhat demonic appearance is justified by his obsession with "mining" the secrets out of the interior of Dimmesdale's heart. On the other hand, Dimmesdale is clearly shaped by his own inner guilt that is eating him up from the inside.

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