The Scarlet Letter

An affair can change a person’s life. That is exactly what happens to Hester Prynne in the novel, The Scarlet Letter. The novel was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. He was a dark romantic writer who wrote about 17-century Puritan life. Puritans came from England to America in search of religious freedom. The life of a Puritan revolved around their religion. They spend their entire life avoiding sin and living simply. Hester Prynne, the main character, is a young Puritan woman who commits the greatest sin: adultery.

Not only was her adultery a sin, it was a crime. Later on her husband Roger Chillingworth takes some of the blame for the affair. In the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Roger Chillingworth believes that both he and Hester were equally to blame for the affair. It is known that in The Scarlet Letter Roger Chillingworth spends more time focused on his studies and furthering his knowledge than spending time with his wife, Hester. In the novel, Chillingworth says, “It was my folly and the weakness.

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I – a man of thought, the bookworm of great libraries – a man already in decay, having given my best years to feed the hungry dream of knowledge” (78). Although he is hurt and angry, Chillingworth feels partly to blame for Hester’s adultery. He feels he did not give Hester the attention a young woman needs. Neglecting a significant other will in no way help a relationship. Spending more time focused on a job or studies will put a tremendous amount of strain on a relationship, just like it did for Hester Prynne and Roger Chillingworth.

Roger Chillingworth blames himself for the affair although it was not entirely his fault; Hester is equally to blame. While Chillingworth and Hester are speaking to each other, Hester says, “Thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love nor feigned any” (79). Hester claims she never really loved Chillingworth. She was a young beautiful woman, while he was an older unattractive man. She realizes she should have never married Chillingworth. Hester was thrown into a love-less relationship, causing her to look for love somewhere else.

Despite the knowledge of the consequences her actions would have, she gave in to her sinful desires. Hester should have stayed true to her Puritan beliefs, even though she felt no love for Roger Chillingworth. Neither Hester Prynne nor Roger Chillingworth can take full responsibility; they are both equally responsible for the adultery. When Hester and Chillingworth are talking, Chillingworth says, “Between thee and me, the scale hangs fairly balanced” (79). They both had a part in the affair in some way. Hester married a man she knew he never loved.

Back home in England, Chillingworth did not give Hester the attention a young wife needs. If Chillingworth had followed Hester shortly after sending her to America, the chance of the affair would have been far less likely. Hester knew her husband would come for her eventually, but instead of waiting for him and staying true to her beliefs she looked for love somewhere else. Relationships take effort from both parties. Chillingworth and Hester are both at fault. Although Hester was essentially the one committing the crime, there were many things Chillingworth could have done to prevent the affair.

Roger Chillingworth believes that both he and Hester Prynne are equally to blame for the affair in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter. In Puritan America adultery is seen as not only a sin, but a crime. Hester Prynne commits the crime of adultery in the novel. Although she commits the crime, she is not fully to blame. It is equally her husband, Roger Chillingworth’s fault. Hester never loved Chillingworth and Chillingworth did not give Hester the attention she needed. Relationships take effort from each person. Not one single person can be to blame in an affair.

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