The Scarlet Letter is a romantic novel based on the events that happened in the 18th century. The main storyline is about an adulterous woman who is shunned by the community because of her shameful behavior. This woman, regarded as a sinful adulterous home wrecker, goes on to redeem herself and her daughter from the unfortunate light that the community views them. Being in the olden days, when society still held to shreds of morality and dignity, adultery was one of the greatest sins, especially when committed by women. The protagonist, Hester, hence had to wear the shameful letter A on her clothing for her whole life. This tag was an indicator of her adulterous ways and served to notify everybody who met her.
Hester is introduced as a young and naïve woman, who is burdened by a heavy condemnation placed on her by the society. As her baby grows, her burden lightens, and so does the feeling of guilt. She succeeds in separating her public life with from her relationship with her daughter. The writer shows the changes in her attitude, which is the driving force towards her positive change. Hawthorne creates a situation where the protagonist perceives herself in a positive light. Her daughter, who is growing every day, is her major source of inspiration. It is a miracle that such a beautiful and bright child could come out of a disgraceful situation that left the mother an object of ridicule. Hester hence learns to make the best out of her situation and improve her circumstances.
At the end of chapter 13, Hester promises herself that she will confront her secretive former the ailing Dimmedale (Nathaniel, 1850). The minister is the illegitimate father of her child. Her former husband was looking for the person who defiled his wife and gave her child. He was living with the minister and facilitating his self punishment. By choosing to confront Chillingworth, Hester shows maturity of age and character. She is no longer frightened of the old physician and is taking up the fight for the defenseless man. This is proof of her physical growth, as well. She has become responsible and courageous. Her endeavor to help the ill minister is an extension of her charity work, which she takes up after being alienated. She finds a positive outcome from a grim situation.
Hester’s change has a positive element. From being an adulterous woman, she has become a charitable and kind woman. She is also full of vigor and enthusiasm. This is different from the changes evident in Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. The minister changed from a man of enviable eloquence and status to a pale reflection of his old self. Guilt is eating his at the core. Knowing that he is the cause of Hester’s shame and humiliation, he takes to hurting himself in an attempt to atone for his sins.
Chillingworth, on the other hand, derives his motivation from revenge. He is furious with Hester for disgracing him, and with Dimmesdale for the role he played in the whole saga. He purposes to make them pay for it. In the beginning, he was a lively man who was not filled with anger. This change is undesirable, especially since the events transpired under the assumption that he was dead at sea.
The twist in characters seems to be an indication that one can purpose to change for the better or worse. The writer wants to pass the message that it is uncouth to judge a person by the mistakes they committed in a moment of weakness. The community was quick to judge Hester. Her husband was wrong too, to assume that she committed adultery because she was morally loose. Just as Hester managed to change her destiny, so can anyone else, only if they are given a chance.