Pride as the Primary Impetus of Roger Chilingworth's Downfall in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Hong, Myonghye
Issue Date
서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집 6(1982): 75-82
human frailtysinned pair
The Scarlet Letter is the story of human frailty. It deals with adultery, punishment,
and penance of the sinned pair, along with the vengeance of the betrayed husband.
Hawthorne focuses on the processes of the spiritual transformations of the three main
characters-Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. Roy R. Male
comments that The Scarlet Letter is "the most intensely moving and the most beautifully
composed work in American history. Hyatt H. Waggoner refers to the ambiguity of this novel arising
from Hawthorne's use of various levels of images." D.H. Lawrence also
comments on the ambiguity of this novel: "It is a marvellous allegory. It is to me one of
the greatest allegories in all literature. The Scarlet Letter. Its marvelous under-meaning!
And its perfect duplicity." Because of this ambiguity, there have been different
interpretations of this story among the critics. Most critics acknowledge Hawthorne's
intense interest in good and evil, sin and redemption through penance and penitance in
this story. Male classifies three types of sinners: "Hester Prynne as the openly repentant
sinner, Arthur Dimmesdale as the half-repentant sinner, Roger Chillingworth as the
unrepentant sinner." Male reports that most critics are interested in Hester but that
Henry James is intrested in Dimmesdale. On the other hand, Mark Van Doren refers to
Hawthorne's deep interest in Chillingworth: "And three years later, with or without the
husband of such a woman in mind, he had made the entry: 'A Story of the effects of revenge, diabolizing him who indulges in it.'
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)영학논집(English Studies)영학논집(English Studies) No.06 (1982)
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