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The Origin of Hatred and Love In “The Scarlet Letter”.

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Introduction

THE ORIGIN OF HATRED AND LOVE IN "THE SCARLET LETTER" 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. ...read more.

Middle

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] ...read more.

Conclusion

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. 1 Pg. 225, para. 1 2 Pg. 69, para. 3 3 Pg. 148 para. 3 4 Pg. 224 (para. 3) - 225 (para. 1) 5 Pg. 105, para. 2 6 Pg. 124, para. 2 7 Pg. 222, para. 5 8 Pg. 225, para. 1 ...read more.

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