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Essay/Term paper: A comparison and contrast in both a's worn by hester and dimmesdale

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Literature Essays

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A Comparison and Contrast In Both A's Worn By Hester and Dimmesdale

The two A's worn in the novel by both Hester and Dimmesdale are
dramatically different, yet they are born and made by the same identical sins.
These letters are also differentiated by the infinitely changing emotional state
and physical well being of the character, the towns views of morality and
natural order, and the affecting environment. The two sins of most importance
in the novel and that serve the greatest beneficiality in the appearance of the
A's are--of course-- adultery and hypocrisy.
The separation in the appearance of both of the A's begins with each
characters own personal interpretation of the extremity of their sins. Where
Hester's A is beautiful and artistically done ("fantastically embroidered and
illuminated upon her bosom; pg.37) her interpretation of the extremity of her
sins is one of self composure and nonchalantness. She views her sins solely as
a "violation in the natural order" of the environment and therefore cannot even
perceive her sin as being evil except through outside brainwashing. While
Dimmesdale's personal interpretation as to the extremity of his own sins is a
"violation of God's law," which is the law that he is totally dedicated to and
supported by. Dimmesdale's interpretation of his sin is much more severe than
Hester's, it is a breach and direct contradiction of his own self consciousness
and physical existence. Therefore the appearance of his A, even though it is
never directly described in the novel, must be raw, jagged, and brutally crooked
(...a ghastly rapture; pg.95). Maybe Dimmesdale's self torture is so horrifying
or inconceivable that it is either indescribable, (...too mighty to be expressed
only by the eye of his figure; pg.95), or best left up to the reader's
imagination. Unlike Hester, Dimmesdale, because of self interpretation, cannot
in any way conceive his sins of being anything but evil.
Although the appearance of the A's are proportional to the
interpretation by each character; also the appearance of the A's is directly
correlated between the consequences each character receives because of their
sins, both Hester's and Dimmesdale's punishment is introduced through a new
character and some sort of isolation. The new character's are a form of
abstract contrasting where each new character is an extension of the sinner's
"A" itself. Where as Chillingworth is a doubled extension of Dimmesdale's
consciousness; Pearl is a contrast to Hester's creativity, patience, and
composure. Dimmesdale's punishment through Chillingworth is one of mental
bombardment and spiritual torture which supports the theory that Dimmesdale's A
must be horrifically putrid and indescribable. Pearl's punishment towards
Hester is one of irritation that attempts to counter balance Hester's
everlasting patience and composure. Because Hester does not let her irritation
get to her and remains constantly tranquil, the A that she wears (ie. the
extension of the A she bears) is as beautiful and natural as she is.
So the A's worn in the novel, even though from the same origin, are the
exact antithesis of each other separated by personal interpretation and
individual consequences. Where one character's beauty and open mindedness to
her crime and punishment makes her A and her punishment (Pearl) natural and
beautiful. While the other character's torture and self hatred of himself and
his crime make the burden that he carries much more heavy. Dimmesdale's A and
the extension to his A (Chillingworth) are ugly, and brutal.


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