Love, affair, disowning! One may think that this is a soap opera, but one is fairly mistaken. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter written by, Nathaniel Hawthorne, love, lies, mistrust are a few of the many situations that confront his characters. In Boston Hester Prynne commits a sin of adultery landing her the punishment of wearing the scarlet letter A for the rest of her life.
The man whom with she has an affair with is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Roger Chillingworth is Hesters husband, and he will do anything in his power to make Dimmesdale repay for what he has done. The physical and metal guiltiness that Dimmesdale undergoes for not confessing the truth of being Pearls father leads him to death. The theme of the novel is sin, isolation, and reunion.
Through out the novel Nathaniel Hawthorne uses setting, plot, and the characters to develop these themes. Hawthorne uses the setting to develop the theme of sin, isolation and reunion. In the market place one of the guards opens the jail cell and announces to all the spectators and to Hester shouting, Open a passage; and I promise ye Mistress Prynne shall be set where man, woman, and child may have a fair sight of her Come along! Madam Hester and show your scarlet letter in the marker place (Hawthorne 52). Hester is being displayed on the scaffold, which Hawthorne uses to show sin.
While Hester is walking out of the jail a woman murmurs to one of the other women, This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die! (Hawthorne 49) This scene clearly shows isolation between Hester and the community. The setting of the scaffold scene also illustrates the reunion between Dimmesdale, Hester and Pearl. When Dimmesdale admits on being the father of Pearl to all the townspeople, this scene reunites Pearl with herself by making her normal. The forest is as well as a major setting that instigates sin. Isolation in the forest occurs when Hester meets Dimmesdale to achieve some reunion, but instead drives them selves further into isolation.
The use of the settings greatly structures how the theme of sin, isolation and reunion came about. The plot is utilized to support the three themes. There are five basic parts to the plot: conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. On top of the scaffold Dimmesdale interrogates Hesters in revealing the identity of Pearls father. Not getting anything out of her he utters, Wondrous, strength, and generosity of a womans heart! She will not speak! (Hawthorne 66) This demonstrates her isolation from everyone and also breeds the conflict between Dimmesdale, Hester, and Chillingworth. If she discloses that Dimmesdale is her lover then Chillingwoth will not have any thing to hold over Hesters head.
The rising action occurs with the continuing isolation of Hester and Dimmesdale and the questioning of Dimmesdale by Chillingworth. He does this because he assumes that it is not physical but mental and moral. This all leads to the conflict. The conflict happens on the scaffold when Dimmesdale breaks down and screams out for repentance and nearly gets caught by Mr.
Wilson and Governor Bellingham. Then again in the forest Hester confronts Chillingworth telling him that she is going to reveal his secret to Dimmesdale. Later in the forest she confronts Dimmesdale telling him the secret that Chillingworth is actually her husband. When Chillingworth secret is confessed Dimmesdale and Hester weep into each others arm while Dimmesdale cries, He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart (Hawthorne 191).
As one can see when Dimmesdale and Chillingworth discover each others true identity it is the climax of the book. The falling action occurs when Hester and Dimmesdale make plans to leave the settlement, and during the night when he is writing his speech for the following day. The resolution occurs when Dimmesdale takes Pearl and her mother to the scaffold where he tells the crowd that he is the father of Pearl and Hesters lover. As one can see the plot is composed of themes of sin, isolation, and reunion.
The characters largely influence the themes. These themes are exhibited in the characters personality. Hesters