In this week’s edition of LEWD (Literary Entertainment Weekly Digest), we’ll get the behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the hottest The Scarlet Letter characters. Connect with the characters you love and the ones you love to hate.
See what Hester, Pearl, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale are really like behind the novel’s ink. Get the down-low about the on-set love triangle, and relive the drama of the secret identity of Pearl’s father.
By the time you finish reading this post, you should have all the juicy details you need to write a great character analysis for your The Scarlet Letter assignment.
The Scarlet Letter Character: Hester Prynne
Bio: What can we say about Hester Prynne? She is a true feminist and role model, and knows how to make the best out of any situation. Although we don’t know the reason she married Roger Chillingworth, we do know she never really loved him.
Some speculate he coerced her into it, possibly using force, but we’ll let our readers draw their own conclusions.
Prynne says she has never thought of herself as being strong until she had to be. Friends and neighbors have alienated her since she had a baby who was not fathered by her husband.
Rumors are flying! Everyone wants to know who the father is. But Prynne, upholding her lover’s privacy, won’t tell.
The paparazzi caught glimpses of her some months back in the forest at night with someone who looks a lot like Reverend Dimmesdale, but he is such an upstanding member of the community—the locals wouldn’t ever point their fingers at him.
(It did turn out later that these suspicions were true, and Dimmesdale is probably the father).
Prynne has worked her way up from being a social disgrace to being a social do-gooder. She helps clothe and feed the poor, and acts as a female role-model for the other women of her community.
Favorite Song: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
Favorite Hobby: Being a single mother takes up most of Ms. Prynne’s time, but in the few spare moments she does have, she enjoys sewing for herself and for others in the community. She says it feels good to do things for others.
Notable Quote: “Be it sin or no, … I hate the man!”
The Scarlet Letter Character: Pearl
Bio: Never has “out of the mouths of babes” been so true as it is with Pearl. Perhaps because she is being raised by a strong, loving mother (Hester Prynne) or maybe because she’s just naturally astute, Pearl has a quick wit for a seven year old—or even for an adult.
She sees how mean people are to her mom, and she is quick to point out the community’s many hypocrisies.
Pearl is a people-watcher and loves trying to figure out the connections between them. She can commonly be found playing outdoors, much to the chagrin of the more “proper” townspeople. They call her wild, but that’s why she’s so intriguing.
Pearl wanted to get to know her father, Reverend Dimmesdale. Sometimes they would play together in the woods, but she always wanted something more.
Unfortunately, she’ll never get the chance because Dimmesdale dies almost immediately after admitting to the townspeople that he is her father. We just hope she doesn’t wind up like other child stars who experience tragedy early in life.
But with her strong character and sharp wit, we think she’ll turn out just fine.
Favorite Song: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Favorite Hobbies: Like every seven-year-old girl, Pearl loves to explore, play, and spend time with her mom. She is more thoughtful than most children, though, and always carefully interprets what she sees.
Notable Quote: “And in the deep forest, where only the old trees can hear, and the strip of sky see it, he talks with thee, sitting on a heap of moss! And he kisses my forehead, too, so that the little brook would hardly wash it off! But, here, in the sunny day, and among all the people, he knows us not; nor must we know him! A strange, sad man is he, with his hand always over his heart!”
The Scarlet Letter Character: Roger Chillingworth
Bio: Roger Chillingworth is the type of person you cannot help but hate. Some people argue he just has had a hard time. After all, his trip to America was pretty torturous—getting kidnapped by the natives definitely left its mark on him. When he finally arrives in America, he finds his wife holding a baby who couldn’t possibly be his.
He could have just left like any sane, heartbroken person would. Instead, what does he do? He becomes a crazy stalker dead set on getting his revenge. He dresses up in a disguise, impersonates a doctor, and befriends his wife’s lover, proceeding to torture the poor man.
Chillingworth is pretty cunning—we have to give him that. In true stalker fashion, he figures out that Hester and Dimmesdale are going to run away together, and he books a trip on the same boat.
Chillingworth eventually just withers away. Our sources say it’s because, without revenge, he has no purpose in life.
Favorite Song: “Back in Black” by AC/DC
Favorite Hobby: Chillingworth really likes to play tricks on people. He admits that he could get carried away with it, even adopting alternate identities to help his ruses, but he says it’s all in the spirit of fun. Our sources, however, say that he acts out of malice because he’s still heartbroken over his wife’s infidelity and suspicious about the identity of Pearl’s father.
Notable Quote: “What evil have I done the man?”
The Scarlet Letter Character: Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale
Bio: During his lifetime, Reverend Dimmesdale is more than meets the eye. Young, handsome, successful, and well-respected, he is a great orator at church. Many see him as the religious pillar of the community. He is kind toward Hester in spite of her public shame.
That’s where things get complicated.
Sources say that behind the scenes, Dimmesdale and Hester had a fling. Humans are humans and have certain urges. This man of the cloth couldn’t suppress his desires, but could (just barely) suppress his guilt. He purposely hurt himself because of his own hypocrisy.
Dimmesdale finally comes clean in a very public way. (It only took him seven years!) It is like any other celebrity meltdown but with a tragic end. After admitting to the whole town that he’s Pearl’s father, he rips open his shirt to show everyone the self-inflicted mark on his chest.
And then he passes. Just like that. The autopsy reveals a possible heart attack, but the religious townspeople say it is because he has finally repented and is now being held accountable for his sins.
Favorite Song: “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Favorite Hobby: As a devoted clergy member, Reverend Dimmesdale insists that his favorite hobby is reading the Bible. But we think part of him likes to let loose every once in awhile.
Notable Quote: “Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.”
Closing Thoughts on The Scarlet Letter Characters and Your Essay
Don’t you feel closer to The Scarlet Letter characters now?
You should be better prepared to write your own character analysis, but if you need more inspiration, check out these example essays on The Scarlet Letter characters:
- Pearl’s Character Analysis in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- A Character Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Novel “The Scarlet Letter”
- An Analysis of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter
- A Comparison of Hester and Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter
When you’re done with your own paper, send it over to the Kibin editors. And much like Hester Prynne, hopefully you can wear your resulting A proudly.