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Free Scarlet Letter Essays: Chillingworth as Satan Scarlet Letter essays

Chillingworth as Satan in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter is a novel packed with religious symbolism, and Hawthorne subtly assigns the role of the devil to Roger Chillingworth. Throughout the novel, there are many references and associations that confirm the fact that Chillingworth is representative of the ultimate evil. First, Hawthorne sets Chillingworth up as the antithesis of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, the obvious Christ-like symbol of the novel. Chillingworth avidly sets out to ruin Dimmesdale. As the narrative voice says when referring to Chillingworth’s discovery of the Dimmesdale’s secret, “All that guilty sorrow, hidden from the world, whose great heart would have pitied and forgiven, to be revealed to him, the Pitiless, to him, the Unforgiving!” (96). The capitalization of the words “Pitiless” and “Unforgiving” show that Chillingworth is the devil. Symbolically, on another more obvious note, Chillingworth steals one of Dimmesdale’s gloves and drops it on the scaffold where sinners are shamed in front of the town. The sexton picks it up after recognizing it as Dimmesdale’s and returns it to its owner saying, “Satan dropped it there” (108). This is a very obvious pointer to the fact that Chillingworth is the devil. Second, Hawthorne’s use of imagery in describing Chillingworth points him out as the devil. Chillingworth is described as misshapen and hunched. He is compared to weeds and such. His profession is described as being much like witchcraft. For example, he grasps a “dark, flabby leaf found near a grave.” All of this darkness denotes the presence of evil. Third, Pearl’s reaction to Chillingworth shows his true face. When she sees him looking at her, she says, “Come away, or yonder old Black Man will catch you! He hath got hold of the Minister already” (93). This is another obvious statement. All in all, Chillingworth is Satan.

Okonkwo’s Tragic Flaws in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

An increasing amount of contemporary literature traces its origins back to the early works of Greece. For ages, humans have fascinated themselves with the impossible notion of perfection. Unrealistic expectations placed on those who were thought to be the noblest or most honorable individuals have repeatedly led to disappointment and frustration, either on the part of those particular individuals or those they influence. Classic characters, like Odysseus and Oedipus for instance, exemplify the excess of some positive character trait, like pride or honesty, which ironically leads to their personal misfortune.

Throughout literary history, particularly within Grecian writings and apparently still evident in today’s international pieces, there exists continuity within the human fear of failure. Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart, details a remote native African society, the Igbo people, and their struggle with Anglican colonization at the turn of the century. The main character Okonkwo is forced to deal with change and transition and bears similarities essential to the tragic hero. Okonkwo is physically, politically, spiritually, and economically strong; however, these strengths combined with his emotional insecurities force him into a tragic downfall, much like that of the classic Greek Heroes.

In typical Greek tragedies, the main character is driven to reach a goal that would prove him or her to be worthy of public admiration of the other characters. That goal is in all probability a good intention; however, some inevitable personality or character flaw prevents that goal from being accomplished and instigates the final tragedy. Aristotle coined the term hamartia, which has frequently been interpreted to mean …

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…ic Hero.” Kentucky State University. Web. 28 May 2014. hero.htm

Works Consulted

Innes, C.L. Chinua Achebe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Obiechina, Emmanuel. “Narrative Proverbs in the African Novel,” Research in African Literatures, 24, 4 (1993), 123-140.

Okafor, Chinyere Grace. “From the Heart of Masculinity: Ogbodo-Uke Women’s Masking.” Research in African Literatures, 25, 3 (1994), 7-17.

Quayson, Ato. “Realism, Criticism, and the Disguises of Both: A Reading of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart with an Evaluation of the Criticism Relating to It.” Research in African Literatures 25. 4, 1994: 117–36.

Traore, Ousseynou. “Things Fall Apart; A Poetics of Epic and Mythic Paradigms.” Approaches to Teaching Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. ed. Bernth Lindfors. New York: MLA, 1991, 65-73.

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