The Origin of Hatred and Love In The Scarlet Letter Essay Example
The Origin of Hatred and Love In The Scarlet Letter Essay Example

The Origin of Hatred and Love In The Scarlet Letter Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 3 (1246 words)
  • Published: October 25, 2017
  • Type: Analysis
Text preview

Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic American novel The Scarlet Letter is replete with complex and profound subjects and themes; the symbolism and metaphor represented by the characters and their actions continuously function as mediums for Hawthorne to relate them to the reader. However, the most influential and consistently present subject is that of hatred and love.

Hawthorne writes, in the conclusion, that, "It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at the bottom. "1 Chillingworth's hatred of Dimmesdale, and Dimmesdale's love of God are, in their deepest forms, the same thing - thus proving the aforementioned passage from Hawthorne's conclusion. These two characters' basic personalities are developed from their intense hatred and love, respectively.To hate and to love require of a human that he must have intimacy with the recipient of his emotion, that the recipient exhibits some emotion in return, and most important, that the one who is loving or hating must experience a depression equal in the magnitude of their passion when the recipient is taken away - all of which characteristics are present, and equal in enormity, in both Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. Chillingworth, Hester's husband in England, is a character whose fundamental hatred of Dimmesdale motivates his every move.

Upon arrival in the colony, learns of Hester's adultery and swears of Hester's accomplice in her crime, "I shall seek this man... I shall see him tremble. I shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unawares.

Sooner or later, he must needs be mine! "2 Chillingworth lives


with Dimmesdale and by "luck" one day finds something of consequence (that perhaps resembles or, at least, is equal in spirit to Hester's scarlet 'A') under Dimmesdale's vest. This is confirmation to Chillingworth's suspicion that Dimmesdale is guilty of fathering Pearl.Although Chillingworth, in the beginning, blindly hates whomever he believed to have sinned with Hester, upon discovering a real focus, his hatred and passion only increases. Hester confronts Chillingworth one day by the ocean, to tell him he must stop torturing Dimmesdale. The narrator further expounds on Chillingworth's hatred of Dimmesdale becoming the sole focus of his existence: "In a word, old Roger Chillingworth was a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into a devil, is he will only, for a reasonable space of time, undertake a devil's office.

3 Chillingworth even goes so far as to blame Dimmesdale for this change in himself. The depth of his hatred had transformed the essence of his personality, and even, by the end of the novel, was indeed the only reason for his mortal life to continue. The narrator remarks that after Dimmesdale died, "Nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place... in the appearance and demeanor of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth.

All his strength and energy - all his vital and intellectual force - seemed at once to desert him; insomuch that he positively withered up, shriveled away, and almost vanished from mortal sight, like an uprooted weed that lies wilting in the sun. This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in pursuit and systemati

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

exercise of revenge...

"4 This hatred was the quintessence of his personality, and has become the fundamental motivation for every action Chillingworth took in his seven years in New England.The object of Chillingworth's hatred, Arthur Dimmesdale, is the minister with whom Hester had Pearl - illegitimately - and suffered greatly privately, partially due to his intense need to endure self-inflicted pain as punishment, and also in part because of Chillingworth's torturous revenge. Dimmesdale is a hypocritical character, for he deeply wishes his sin to be made public, but cannot, from fear of the consequences, bring himself to make it known.Instead of living sinfully in public as Hester, Dimmesdale suffers intensely privately because of his passionate love of God and of his faith and religion.

In the narrator's description of him, Dimmesdale is described as, "... considered by his more fervent admirers as little less than a heaven-ordained apostle, destined, should he live and labor for the ordinary term of life, to do as great deeds for the now feeble New England Church..

. "5 Although the Puritans as a community were indeed defined by their religious zeal, Dimmesdale was respected by his fellow Puritans as an especially devout man.Even though he has sinned, the narrator still passionately proclaims Dimmesdale's willingness to please God and his congregation: "To [the congregation's] high mountain-peaks of faith and sanctity he would have climbed, had not the tendency been thwarted by his burden... of crime and anguish.

.. "6 However, it is in Dimmesdale's dying speech that he most profoundly professes his deep love and trust in God and his religion. Some of his last words are describing that God sent him obstacles to prove he was worthy of being saved; Dimmesdale says, "God knows; and He is merciful!He hath proved his mercy, most of all, in my afflictions...

Praised be his name! His will be done! "7 Dimmesdale's love of God, present throughout the book, is perhaps its strongest and most convincing in the abovementioned passage, as the tone in the dialogue and his situation of dying a saintly death evoke a sense of the enormity of Dimmesdale's focus on his purity, sin, and all aspects of his life that, in his view, exist only for God's sake. How then, can these seemingly two contrary characters, who display seemingly entirely different emotions, be the same thing at the core?Indeed, it seems as though they are the most polar of opposites; however, the two share three characteristics which bind their hatred and love under a single title. Chillingworth knows Dimmesdale, the object of his hatred, very intimately; Dimmesdale responds to this hatred by physically and emotionally crumbling, thus providing something to which Chillingworth can respond; and finally and most importantly, once Dimmesdale dies, Chillingworth changes and dies within a year for he cannot sustain himself without this recipient of his hatred.His hatred obviously dissolves, thus dissolving Chillingworth himself. The same relationship is true of Dimmesdale and his faith.

Dimmesdale studies and knows his God thoroughly, responds to what he assumes is God's test for his life by overcoming the obstacles presented to him, and dies once his

last obstruction - the Election Day sermon - is completed and God is finished contending with Dimmesdale's mortal life. Because both the characters' love and hatred are so similar, it can be concluded that the two emotions are indeed the same thing.Nearing the end of the novel, Hawthorne says that, "... [love and hate].

.. seem essentially the same, except that one happens to be seen in a celestial radiance, and the other in a dusky and lurid glow. "8 Although Dimmesdale is seen by the Puritan community to be an apostle, and Chillingworth seen by Hester to be an evil man, their intense feelings of hate and love that drive their motivations are, in their most basic form, the same thing.Because the characters' hatred and love is derived out of their intimacy with the object of their emotion, the ability to sustain themselves from their objects' reactions, and the symptoms of desolation felt when this object is removed, it can be said that they were, in fact, experiencing the same emotion, simply masked for Dimmesdale by his glowing holiness, and for Chillingworth by his shadowy parasitic nature.