View of Reputation in “The Scarlet Letter”

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Reputation is everything. Whether we like to admit it or not, we care how people perceive us, and we care about their opinions of us. This ideology is not something new, it is something that has been around as early as the time in which, The Scarlet Letter was written in. Throughout the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, you see many of the main characters including, Roger, Hester and Arthur, sacrifice various things for something they all value, reputation.

The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story about an adulteress, Hester Prynne, who must wear a scarlet A to showcase her sin. Arthur Dimmesdale, Hesters lover, remains unknown to the reader until the end of the novel. While being unidentified, Dimmesdale is filled with guilt. Then to top it off, Hesters husband, Roger Chillingworth is in town seeking revenge on Hesters lover and will not stop until he gets his revenge.

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The first passage I have chosen demonstrates Hester Prynnes sacrifice. The passage describes an encounter Hester experienced while standing on the scaffold. Reverend Mr. Wilson and Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale urge Hester to reveal the identity of her paramour, so that he may stand there with her and share the responsibility or blame. Hester refuses to give her lover a name because she feels she might endure his agony, as well as mine!. This shows how much Hester valued the reputation of her lover, because she was willing to sacrifice her reputation in order to keep his reputation from being tarnished. Hesters sacrifices for Arthur make her an admirable and heroic character despite her newfound reputation as a marked outcast.

The second passage that I have chosen showcases Rogers sacrifice to protect his reputation. This passage describes the encounter between Roger and Hester, while Hester is still in Jail. Roger asked Hester to keep his identity a secret because I will not encounter the dishonor that besmirches the husband of a faithless woman.. Roger did not want his name to be tarnished for being the husband of Hester Prynne, an adulteress. This idea of secrecy in order to protect your reputation is evident in The Scarlet Letter, especially in the character of Roger Chillingworth. The reader starts to see Roger sacrificing his health because he is so determined on torturing Arthur, Hesters paramour.

The third and final passage I have chosen will be used to show Arthurs sacrifice. Arthur sacrificed his health and, in a sense, possibly even his life, because he was so wrapped up in the guilt and shame of not only being Hesters lover but in keeping it a secret just to protect his reputation. His inward trouble drove him to practices more in accordance with the old, corrupted faith of Rome, than with the better light of the church in which he had been born and bred. In Mr. Dimmesdales secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge, a scourge is a whip used as an instrument of punishment. Arthur was inflicting pain upon himself because he had so much guilt in keeping such a large secret just to uphold his reputation. Throughout the novel the reader begins to see Arthurs health deteriorate and the townspeople start to notice something is wrong with their beloved minister and they feel he will soon pass away. This passage clearly demonstrates the cause of Arthurs pain and slow decline and that is the weight of being Hesters lover and keeping it a secret to maintain his reputation.

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