A Comparison and Contrast In Both A’s Worn By Hester and DimmesdaleThe two A’s worn in the novel by both Hester and Dimmesdale aredramatically different, yet they are born and made by the same identical sins.These letters are also differentiated by the infinitely changing emotional stateand physical well being of the character, the towns views of morality andnatural order, and the affecting environment. The two sins of most importancein the novel and that serve the greatest beneficiality in the appearance of theA’s are–of course– adultery and hypocrisy.The separation in the appearance of both of the A’s begins with eachcharacters own personal interpretation of the extremity of their sins. WhereHester’s A is beautiful and artistically done (“fantastically embroidered andilluminated upon her bosom; pg.37) her interpretation of the extremity of hersins is one of self composure and nonchalantness.
She views her sins solely asa “violation in the natural order” of the environment and therefore cannot evenperceive her sin as being evil except through outside brainwashing. WhileDimmesdale’s personal interpretation as to the extremity of his own sins is a”violation of God’s law,” which is the law that he is totally dedicated to andsupported by. Dimmesdale’s interpretation of his sin is much more severe thanHester’s, it is a breach and direct contradiction of his own self consciousnessand physical existence.
Therefore the appearance of his A, even though it isnever directly described in the novel, must be raw, jagged, and brutally crooked(…a ghastly rapture; pg.95).
Maybe Dimmesdale’s self torture is so horrifyingor inconceivable that it is either indescribable, (…too mighty to be expressedonly by the eye of his figure; pg.
95), or best left up to the reader’simagination. Unlike Hester, Dimmesdale, because of self interpretation, cannotin any way conceive his sins of being anything but evil.Although the appearance of the A’s are proportional to theinterpretation by each character; also the appearance of the A’s is directlycorrelated between the consequences each character receives because of theirsins, both Hester’s and Dimmesdale’s punishment is introduced through a newcharacter and some sort of isolation. The new character’s are a form ofabstract contrasting where each new character is an extension of the sinner’s”A” itself. Where as Chillingworth is a doubled extension of Dimmesdale’sconsciousness; Pearl is a contrast to Hester’s creativity, patience, andcomposure.
Dimmesdale’s punishment through Chillingworth is one of mentalbombardment and spiritual torture which supports the theory that Dimmesdale’s Amust be horrifically putrid and indescribable. Pearl’s punishment towardsHester is one of irritation that attempts to counter balance Hester’severlasting patience and composure. Because Hester does not let her irritationget to her and remains constantly tranquil, the A that she wears (ie. theextension of the A she bears) is as beautiful and natural as she is.
So the A’s worn in the novel, even though from the same origin, are theexact antithesis of each other separated by personal interpretation andindividual consequences. Where one character’s beauty and open mindedness toher crime and punishment makes her A and her punishment (Pearl) natural andbeautiful. While the other character’s torture and self hatred of himself andhis crime make the burden that he carries much more heavy.
Dimmesdale’s A andthe extension to his A (Chillingworth) are ugly, and brutal.