Thursday, November 19, 2015

Collection of Thoughts at the Scene with Hester and Dimmesdale... and Zodiacs!!

Here is just a collection of my random thoughts regarding chapters 17&18.
I just can't seem to figure out why Dimmesdale allows himself to destruct in that way when he knows there is an outside force causing him pain. He doesn't really even have to know that it is Chillingworth who is inflicting the pain upon him; if he senses an overly large amount of pain, he should seek out a way to rid himself of that. Instead, it almost seems though as if he is complacent because he just doesn't take any sort of action on helping himself.

Secondly, zodiac superlatives! I thought it would be fun to guess the characters' zodiacs, see if you agree!
Dimmesdale - Scorpio. Water signs are typically rich with emotions and feelings. He is mentioned multiple times in the novel as "sensitive". What really made me think that he is a Scorpio the stressing of how his "self was gone" after he returned from the forest. Dimmesdale feels that "another man had returned out of the forest; a wiser one; with a knowledge of hidden mysteries which the simplicity of the former never could have reached" (194). This reminded me of the scorpio's symbol, the scorpion, because it's similar to the process of scorpion's shedding their skin in the molting process.
Pearl - Gemini. Pearl has the many characteristics of an air sign, quirky and intelligent. Hester addresses Pearl as "Thou strange child" (182). Hawthorne constantly conveys to the audience the peculiarity of Pearl through his descriptions of her being. The part in the novel that really led me to believe that Pearl was a gemini is the occurrences of her seeing her reflection in the water. One of them is where Pearl "had paused the brook chanced to form a pool, so smooth and quiet that it reflected a perfect image of her little figure" (181). This idea of double is like the symbol of the gemini, the twins.
Chillingworth - Sagittarius. Chillingworth is not so much related to this week's reading but I thought it'd be nice to include him. He was previously described as Satan, a "fiend". These are all relative to hell, which suggest that he could be a fire sign! I just thought that he'd seem like a sagittarius the most because the sagittarius is an archer. The points of the arrow remind me of Satan's fork.
Hester - Virgo. My conclusion of Hester's zodiac does not come so much from this week's reading either. I derived this conclusion because she is not extreme like a fire or water sign. She doesn't seem to have the quirkiness commonly possessed by air signs nor does she understand it, so that disassociates her with the air signs and leaves the earth signs. Virgo's have an eye for detail and are very organized people. This is seen throughout the novel through her thread work. Despite her hardships, she still manages to be on top of everything, to persevere through the pain.

PS I initially thought Dimmesdale was a Pisces and Chillingworth as a Scorpio but the textual evidences I could find say otherwise. If you have any other opinions feel free to contribute in the comments section!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Is Chillingworth's Craziness Justified???

Throughout the course of the novel, Roger Chillingworth transforms from an intellectual old man to a fiend. When he first appears in the novel, he has a "scholar-like visage, with eyes dim and bleared by the lamp-light that had served them to pore over many ponderous books"(55). By the end of chapter 10, Chillingworth has "a ghastly rapture" which "burst[ed] forth through the whole ugliness of his figure"(121). This is due to his obsession in finding out the father of Hester's illegitimate child. Through his fixation on Reverend Dimmesdale, Chillingworth finally finds an answer. Hawthorne describes Chillingworth: "Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself, when a precious human soul is lost to heaven, and won into his kingdom" (121).

The progression of Chillingworth's journey into insanity hits a mark where he surpasses Hester in his sins. Chillingworth had "brought himself nearer to her[Hester's] level, or perhaps below it, by the revenge which he had stooped for" (146). This begs the question of whether Chillingworth's journey to insanity is justified. Why does vengeance cause him to fall that far into Satan's hands? Firstly, although Hester is Chillingworth's wife, the whole town doesn't even know that Hester's husband is alive, so the shame brought upon him isn't even legitimized by anyone but himself and God. I understand the part which he wants vengeance for the other sinner, but at the same time, Chillingworth seems to blame himself for Hester's case, "'I have left thee to the scarlet letter'"(151). If he thinks that it is his fault, why does he still manipulate Dimmesdale's life to make it a living hell? Personally, I think that Chillingworth has gone way too far. Theoretically, Dimmesdale holds the same amount of sin as Hester Prynne. Since Chillingworth had fallen below her on the "sin scale", then, in my opinion, it means that Dimmesdale has already received the punishment he needed and more, and Chillingworth has passed the degree of revenge he should have been implementing. Another opinion could be that Chillingworth is putting himself through insanity as a punishment for his causing of this whole scandal, what do you think?
Here is a picture of Chillingworth from the 1995 Scarlet Letter film and one of Satan from Google Images, do you spot any resemblances?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts on Passage in Chapter 5 of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

While reading the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one passage particularly stuck out to me:
"Vanity, it may be, chose to mortify itself, by putting on, for ceremonials of pomp and state, the garments that had been wrought by her sinful hands. Her needle-work was seen on the ruff of the Governor; military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his band; it decked the baby's little cap; it was shut up, to be mildewed and moulder away, in the coffins of the dead. But it is not recorded that, in a single instance, her skill was called in aid to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride. The exception indicated the ever relentless vigor with which society frowned upon her sin" (75).
This passage appears in chapter 5 where Hawthorne is describing Hester Prynne's sewing skills. Hawthorne points out at the end of this passage that Hester's community doesn't allow her to sew white veils for brides because they don't want her sin to taint the brides. Although, what Hawthorne doesn't mention directly is that everyone Hester sews for has some sort of negative energy about them, or associated with death, in a sense, even besides the dead people. Firstly, she sews for the Governor, who is seen wearing "a dark feather in his hat, a border of embroidery on his cloak, and a black velvet tunic beneath"(59). Despite the fact that the Governor seems to be wearing "Puritan" colors (dark, sullen colors), the details of this quote tell us that he is actually quite extravagant because he is wearing a feather, an embroidery, and a velvet tunic, quite opposite to the Puritan ideal. All of these materials above show that the Governor may be potentially corrupt because on the surface he seems to fit in with the society when in reality his clothes do not reflect what this society stands for. Another example of negativity is military men wearing scarves of her work. The military has a glorious surface of protecting the people, but underneath the surface is the dark reality of the slaughter and killing of war. Finally, the last example of the darkness associated with Hester's work is the baby, assumingly her baby Pearl. As we find out in the following chapter, Hester keeps noticing irregularities about Pearl; it is almost as if Pearl is the devil's spawn. Hawthorne ends the list saying that what she sews also goes into coffin, suggesting that the old Hester is already dead by spirit. The current her is just alive but not living, and she is living in a dead man's world.