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Research Papers on the Characters of The Scarlet Letter

Research papers on the characters in The Scarlet Letter illustrate the fragility of human nature. Paper Masters' writers can custom write a research paper for your American Literature course that explicates the characters of this work by Hawthorne.

The characters of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne all represent the different levels of repression and deceit within the human experience. On the a broad and sweeping level, the sin and shame of the community is the true ugliness representative of a community tainted with folly. Individually, the characters of the novel each represent human reaction to sin, guilt, and repression. Characters of The Scarlet LetterThe notion of sin permeates nearly every paragraph in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter.  Hawthorne examines many facets of the human experience of sin and guilt through the following characters:

  • Hester
  • Dimmesdale
  • Chillingworth 

Certainly, these characters seem to corroborate the doctrine which holds that man’s fall from grace instilled a genetic tendency towards moral weakness in humans, This is the stories plot.  From a cursory analysis, it would appear that in every moment of choice, Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth have failed.  However, Hawthorne presents his characters as more complex and conflicted than the one-dimensional stereotypes who populate fables and parables.

Sinful Characters of The Scarlet Letter

Within the novel, a character is either just about to sin or is affected by a past sin, and a pall of evil overshadows everyone. Beginning with the community, Hawthorne represents them within the setting, which is either at the church, in the graveyard, or at the prison. Each place is symbolism in The Scarlet Letter for the results of sin. The sinner is condemned in the church, sent to a prison for his/her actions, or sin may result in a figurative death on several levels of human experience. Even more powerful is what Hawthorne fails to put into the novel about the community. There is no joy or bonding communal celebrations within the members of the community. The community thrives on the shame of others and it permeates their conversations and life.

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