The Scarlet Letter

Scarlet Letter

What are some character traits of Hester?

What are some character traits of Dimmesdale?

What are some actions that show the character traits of Chillingworth?

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Arthur Dimmesdale

Arthur Dimmesdale is a respected minister in Boston and the father of Pearl. While Hester waited for her husband to arrive from Amsterdam, she met Dimmesdale and had an adulterous affair with him, which led to the birth of their daughter. While Hester is publicly shamed for the adultery, Dimmesdale must suffer the ignominy quietly since no one knows of his culpability. The suffering begins to take its physical toll, especially since Hester's husband Chillingworth seeks to destroy Dimmesdale and is a constant reminder of the guilt and shame he harbors from his affair with Hester. At the very end of the novel, Dimmesdale admits to being Pearl's father and reveals that he has a scarlet letter branded into his flesh. He dies upon the scaffold while holding Hester's hand.

Hester Prynne

Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the novel, is the mother of Pearl. She must wear the scarlet letter A on her body as punishment for her adulterous affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, the town minister. Hester is married to Roger Chillingworth, but while Hester awaited her husband's arrival from Amsterdam, she met Dimmesdale and engaged in the adulterous affair, which led to Pearl's birth. Hester is never quite penitent for her “crime,” if only because she cannot understand how her punishments could be so harsh. When Governor Bellingham orders Pearl to be taken away from her, Hester wonders whether a woman must die for following her heart, prompting Dimmesdale to intercede as a subtle way of taking responsibility for the affair. Hester learns that Chillingworth is seeking to destroy Dimmesdale, and she decides that her marriage was never sanctified in the first place, for her husband has the seething rage of the devil himself. Hester is thus paired with Dimmesdale upon the scaffold for his final moments.

Roger Chillingworth

Hester's husband from the Netherlands. Chillingworth arrives in Boston on the day that Hester is publicly shamed and forced to wear the scarlet letter. He vows revenge on the father of Pearl, and he soon moves in with Arthur Dimmesdale, who Chillingworth knows has committed adultery with his wife. His revenge is frustrated at the end of the novel, when Dimmesdale reveals that he is Pearl's father before dying. Chillingworth, having lost the object of his hatred, dies soon thereafter.