Part 1: Important Chapters
- Chapter 2: This chapter begins to show the plot; Hester Prynne committed adultery and then had an illegitimate child, and is now to be publicly shunned for her sins. This chapter also characterizes Hester as a shameful woman; at the end of the chapter it says “she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter...to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real. Yes! These were her realities.” The theme of sin and consequence play a major part in this whole novel, especially this chapter, because it sets an ominous tone and gives readers a feel of how life was in this puritan town. Hester committed a sin, and it is a social norm in this town to publicly shame those who have sinned. Her consequences such as being shunned and shamed are because of her sins, and she will now always be judged.
- Chapter 3: This chapter continues the same themes, however it provides more characterization and adds to the plot of the novel. Readers learn that the town does not know who the father of Hester's child is, and Hester is not going to confess. “‘I will not speak!’ answered Hester…’And my child must seek a heavenly father; she shall never know an earthly one!’” This quote characterizes Hester as still a religious woman despite her sins, and an honest/trustworthy woman as well. She will not throw her daughter’s father under the bus and confess what he did, instead, she allows him to come to his own decision on whether or not he will confess his own sin himself.
- Chapter 9: In this chapter, new themes and new additions into the plot are introduced, as well as characterization. This chapter begins to discuss Dimmesdale (Pearl’s father) and his health problems; him mainly grabbing at his chest because his heart “pains him.” right where Hester holds her scarlet “A”. This portrays Dimmesdale’s regret (as well as the theme of regret being harmful) and characterizes him as a very guilty and self conscious person who regrets the fact that he never came out and admitted his sins. His guilty conscious and regret is beginning to take a toll on his health. Chillingworth (Hester’s husband), however, knows what Dimmesdale has done, and is determined to plot his revenge. Chillingworth is a very angry and unforgiving person who refuses to accept the sins Hester and Dimmesdale committed, therefore, plans to torment Dimmesdale.
- Chapter 23: In chapter 23, the themes “everyone has hidden sin” and “regret can be harmful” show all throughout. The plot comes to a conclusion; Dimmesdale finally confesses his sin in front of all the townspeople with Hester and Pearl. His guilt and regret became too much for him to handle. Dimmesdale is too honest of a character to continue to let this hidden sin go on. After this confession, Pearl finally gives Dimmesdale a kiss, and is happy he finally admitted it. Chillingworth is extremely mad that he no longer has control on Dimmesdale anymore. His revenge will no longer serve any purpose now that everyone knows about the secret sin. CHillingworth is still a bitter and angry person regardless.
"The scarlet letter burned on Hester Prynne's bosom. Here was another ruin, the responsibility of which came partly home to her."
- A major characteristic of dark romanticism/dark literature is the belief that people were far from good, and people are prone to sin. Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale are proof that people are more bad than they are good, and their sins prove that humans are prone to sin, especially because even the minister was an adulterer.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne is a major author of dark romanticism and he is the author of The Scarlet Letter.
- Woods are a very common image/element of dark romanticism, which is a big part of the scarlet letter; lots of the setting in this novel was in the woods.
- Dark Romantics see truth to be evil and sinful, and that is the case in this novel. The truth behind who Pearl's father was, and the truth behing Chillingworth's revenge is all very sinful.
- Blood red is a popular color/image in dark romanticism. Hester's scarlet letter is similar to this color.
- "Repressed fears and desires, memory of past crime or sin" Hester's sins were because of her desires and it is a memory that neither her, DImmesdale, or Chillingworth will ever forget.
- "Puritan Moral Gothic" Hester went against her puritan morals.
In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there is a character named Dimmesdale who is pulled by two compelling desires. He was stuck between deciding to confess his sin or to hide it.