The Scarlet Letter as a Love Story

There are plenty of evidences in the text of The Scarlet Letter to advance the thesis that The Scarlet Letter is a tragic love story. It is a love story because its female protagonist Hester Prynne suffered a lot for preserving her love intact. She went to the extent of betraying her marriage in order to valorize her love. She had to marry an old man named Chillingworth.

The Scarlet Letter

Her husband was a bookworm. Probably her marriage with such a bookworm was a source of dissatisfaction. When she arrived at the New England, she found Arthur Dimmesdale. They were drawn to each other. Perhaps they loved. They consummated their love. From the side of Arthur Dimmesdale it is somewhat difficult to say the immoral liaison between them is a token of pure love or not, but from the side of Hester Prynne it can be concluded with an air of confidence that so-called liaison is none other than pure love. The story of the puritanically interpreted liaison between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale is the story of love.

It is a love story because Hester did not reveal the name of her loves when she was torturously interrogated to pinpoint her lover's name. She was punished to stay on the scaffold in public. Time and again she was harassed and interrogated so that she tells about her lover's name despite this torturous public punishment, Hester Prynne remained silent, remained undefeated and remained superbly dauntless. The puritan public charges her for adultery. In accordance with the puritan code of law the sexual liaison of which Hester is guilty is an act of adultery. It is, to those Boston puritans, a violation of their rigorous ethics and moral rectitude. Even amidst this public punishment Hester remained unashamed and undaunted. It appears she was untouched by the punishment given by the 18th century puritanically strict Boston. This undaunted, undefeated and triumphant stance of Hester Prynne at the moment of punishment in public is equivalent to the affirmation of love. From this affirmation of Hester Prynne's love we come to know that Hester Prynne considered as he love that which the 18th century puritan community in Boston considered as an act of adultery.

When Hester Prynne was in prison with her infant Pearl, her husband Roger Chillingworth went to this prison under the guise of a physician. Chillingworth’s purpose of visiting the prison house was to solicit the name of Hester’s love so that he could avenge on him. Chillingworth was devoted to ruining the life of Hester’s lover in case he happens to know his name. Hester knew about this dark motive of her deformed husband Rogerchillingworth. Hester was devoted to preserving her lover. She can’t see her lover being ruined or destroyed because she had pure love for her lover Arthur Dimmesdale. Throughout her life if there is anything Hester Prynne cared most that is her lover Arthur. She was ready to sacrifice her husband, her public reputation, her public image and her dignity for the sake for her lover Arthur Dimmesdale. Even at the time of heavy interrogation on the scaffold Hester did not reveal her lover’s name thinking that if she reveals his name, his reputation will be eclipsed.

In chapter sixteen, we come across one crucial element to prove that The Scarlet Letter is a love story. When Hester knew that Arthur Dimmesdale was on his journey through a forest to the Apostle of Eliot, she went to meet him in the forest. Her real purpose of meeting with Arthur Dimmesdale is to know about his sufferings. She had also a sound advice for him. By meeting Dimmesdale, Hester told him to be wary for her husband Roger Chillingworth. She advised Arthur that Roger Chillingworth is going to kill him by stimulating his guilty conscience. In addition, she put forward several alternative ways of saving his life from the persistently haunting presence of Roger Chillingworth.

On the basis of this event in the story we feel courageous to claim that The Scarlet letter is a love story, other things remaining the same. Come what may, Hester Prynne was hell- bent upon saving her lover’s life with the grace of her unflinching love.

In chapter twenty there we see Dimmesdale on the scaffold ready for public confession. He himself was unable to climb the scaffold. So he expected Hester to help him. Ultimately the minister collapsed in the hand of his beloved Hester Prynne. At the sorrowful juncture in which the minister collapsed there was nobody except Hester Prynne, who was fatally affected by her lover’s death. Her lover’s death provoked a sense of irreparable loss. Why did she feel a sense of irreparable loss? The answer is her liaison with him was not an adulterous and immoral relation. On the contrary, it was a true love story. Viewed from Hester’s loyal commitment in her secret relationship with Arthur Dimmesdale, The Scarlet Letter appears to be a love story.