Secrets and the Scarlet Letter

Category: The Scarlet Letter
Last Updated: 25 May 2023
Pages: 5 Views: 631

“A secret between two is God's secret, between three is all men’s. ”-Spanish Proverb. Secrets are not meant for being told. Usually everyone is supposed to take secrets “to their grave. ” In certain circumstances, they must be told. Even though you’re thwarting your own honor by telling a secret, sometimes it must be done. In most cases, secrets should be kept, but in The Scarlet Letter, there are some that need to be told. There's nothing more powerful than finding someone safe to tell "the secret" to. No one knows how hard it is, unless they've been there. Your heart pounds, your body is rock rigid, you grind your teeth, your mouth is dry.

You think of all the excuses to keep your mouth shut. They'll get mad. They'll laugh. They'll reject you. They'll treat it like it was nothing and tell you to forget about it. Or worse: they'll be polite, nod their head like they understand, leave and not ever have anything to do with you again. Even then, the depth of doubt, self-hate, fear and insecurity is so strong, that even after you tell even to someone who's been through it too you leave and wonder, did I say too much? Did I do the right thing? Will they hate me? Only experience lets you know your trust wasn't for nothing.

In the Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Arthur Dimmesdale all have secrets. They will do whatever they can to keep their secrets a secret. Except for Hester, whose secret has been made public by her wearing the scarlet letter A. Arthur Dimmesdale’s secret is the most lethal. He is keeping his secret to protect his reputation even though it’s eating away at him and keeping him from what he wants most; Hester. For example, in chapter 17 page 182, we are told that Dimmesdale’s secret has taken hold of his life and made him a miserable man. "There is no substance in it!

Order custom essay Secrets and the Scarlet Letter with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help

It is cold and dead, and can do nothing for me! Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none! Else, I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness, and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgment-seat. Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret! Thou little knowest what a relief it is, after the torment of a seven years' cheat, to look into an eye that recognizes me for what I am! " Dimmesdale’s secret should be told because then he won’t feel so guilty and his shame and hypocrisy will not eat him alive.

It also isn’t fair to Pearl that she has no father and won’t be able to have one because of Dimmesdale’s secret. She has no knowledge of him being her father because of what he had to do to protect his name. Girls should have a father figure in their lives, Pearl never had that opportunity. Roger Chillingworth also exhibits secrecy. He’s keeping his identity a secret because he wants to find out who Hester’s acquaintance was and he also wants to protect his high reputation as well. It isn’t right for him to keep his identity a secret because it’s putting other people in harm’s way which is a circumstance when secrets need to be told.

The torture he’s doing to Dimmesdale isn’t dignified and un-puritan like. In chapter 14, Chillingworth says “I have left thee to the scarlet letter, if that have not avenged me I can do more! ” This quote says that Chillingworth is willing to do more to Dimmesdale and make him suffer more which is making Chillingworth’s secret deeper because the more he does that Hester knows about, the more guilt she feels about keeping his identity a secret from Dimmesdale. His secret should be told because it goes against moral values of the puritans. In some cases, secrets shouldn’t be told.

Those who keep a secret keep themselves moral. Keeping a secret and respecting the secrets of others, as opposed to prying into them, is a virtue of self discipline and sensitivity. The heart can be seen as a safe for keeping secrets. Intelligence is the lock, and will power is the key. Keeping secrets is important for your dignity, pride, and personal gain. In response to The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is the only one who knows the secrets that Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are hiding from the townsfolk. Hester has to control her desire to tell the truth and practices the art of deception to hide these secrets.

When she will not reveal the father of Pearl, Reverend Dimmesdale says, "She will not speak. " It is ironic that the person who committed the sin with Hester is the one who announces publicly that she will not reveal the name of the other sinner. Later, Chillingworth wants to know who it is and he says, "Thou wilt not reveal his name? " Hester refuses and continues to hold her silence. Then, Chillingworth, still trying to find out the name of her lover, comments, ". . . but Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both! Who is he? " When he says this, he is hinting that he is going to do something to Dimmesdale.

This is why Hester makes Chillingworth promise not to kill her lover if he finds out his identity. Chillingworth deserves to know who slept with his wife, although Hester should not have had to tell him. I think that Dimmesdale should have admitted that he was Pearl's father. Today, if a priest admitted such a crime, he would probably be sent to jail. However, in the novel, had Dimmesdale confessed, the townsfolk would have liked him even more. Hester also has to live with, and conceal, the secret that Chillingworth is her husband. When he comes to visit her in jail he says, "Thou hast kept the secret of thy paramour.

Keep, likewise, mine! There are none in this land that know me. Breathe not, to any soul, that thou didst ever call me husband. " Hester shows great strength of character by her ability to keep the secret identities of her lover and her husband. There must have been times when the temptation to reveal her secrets was overwhelming, but she managed to do so. There are times when secrets must stay secrets and times when they should be told. The Scarlet Letter is an allegory for secrets. Chillingworth and Dimmesdale’s secrets should be told because they’re doing things for the wrong reasons and hurting either themselves or those around them.

It was right for Hester to keep secrets throughout the book because she was looking out for herself, Pearl, and Dimmesdale and would do anything to make sure they weren’t in harm’s way of Chillingworth’s wrath. When it comes to secrets, to each their own. With different situations comes different ways to handle the condition and decide whether or not a secret should be held in or expressed for the world to hear. In most cases, secrets should be kept, but in The Scarlet Letter, there are some that need to be told.

Cite this Page

Secrets and the Scarlet Letter. (2017, Mar 30). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer