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YMMV: The Scarlet Letter
  • Alternate Character Interpretation-
    • Pearl. The public, and even Hester at times, in the book sees her as a product of sin. She's probably a girl misunderstood by the whole community (who take every little "bad" thing she does and connects it to her being an illegitimate child) and brought up by a mother too distracted by her guilt to discipline her.
    • Roger Chillingworth. He is portrayed as wickedly and disturbingly obsessed, though Hester does note that she shouldn't have wronged him in the first place.
      • Actually he does little or nothing objectively bad (somewhat depending on interpretation). He has done a lot of good things though: at great personal risk he has learned medicine from the indians and uses it for the benefit of the community. He forgives Hester, even saying that her infidelity was mostly his fault, and medicates Pearl. He also lets her go, despite the fact that apparently he still loves her. He helps the man he suspects is the man who cuckolded him, even Dimmesdale admits that Chillingworth saved his life. Chillingworth correctly insists that Dimmesdale needs to fess up to whatever is on his conscience to truly regain his health. Yet everyone, including, the narrator, Dimmesdale, Hester and Chillingworth himself assumes he does all of these things for the worst reasons.
  • Anvilicious: Basically all the symbolism.
    • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: A sin does not define a person as completely evil. How a person accepts and interprets his/her own sins are rift with complicated emotions and grey morality rather than the black and white.
  • Foe Yay: Chillingworth and Dimmesdale; see also Heterosexual Life-Partners.
  • It Gets Better: The Customs House.
  • Narm: In the film, the poor guy about to hang Dimmesdale gets shot by an Indian in the throat three times! And continues stumbling around in midst of the huge battle. It's almost a Overly Long Gag.
  • Tear Jerker: A common, cliche ending in old literature (and yet), Arthur's last words to the crowd about the nature of sin and humanity with his daughter kissing him goodbye qualify.
  • They Just Didn't Care: Demi Moore's film. Moore herself infamously stated "Hardly anybody's read the book" when confronted about the numerous changes.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Hawthorne's novel doesn't stop at Beauty Equals Goodness. It is generally thought that he in this story traces spiritual growth and failure by the deterioration or beautification of appearances. Unfortunately this means that he comes across not only as preaching that good people are beautiful and ugly people are evil but also saying that doing evil also makes you ugly, if a person is getting uglier it is because he is getting more evil. When you add the fact that all the objectively good things Chillingworth does is interpreted in the worst possible light in the story you end up with pretty horrifying corollaries: If you are ugly and do good things, such as dedicating your life to helping people as a doctor and forgiving your cheating wife or saving the life of the person you suspect of cheating on you, it doesn't count as good. You are ugly/evil and therefore you must be doing this for horrible reasons so it doesn't count even the person you save will realize you are a devil (Dimmesdale calls Chillingworth a devil when he realizes who the man who saved his life is). Though it was almost certainly not his intention, Hawthorne does appear to favor the beautiful people and suggest they always have the higher moral ground.
  • Wangst - Dimmesdale, would you just confess already?! You're wasting away.
    • Nicely averted with Hester. Although Hester is grieved and despondant at her place as an outcast, she gathers dignity to live and redeems herself gradually to her townsfolk — she is forced to take responsibility, and so she does so. Dimmesdale, her obvious foil, wastes himself away.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Pearl. Then again, this is a classic...
    • It is commonly taught in English classes the country over that the chapter "A Flood of Sunshine" is, in fact, one long literary metaphor for sex. Considering lines like, "All at once, as with a sudden smile of heaven, forth burst the sunshine, pouring a very flood into the obscure forest..." - well, is it any wonder?
    • "A Flood of Sunshine"?
  • The Woobie: Arthur Dimmesdale may qualify. And poor Hester.
    • Dimmesdale is arguably a Jerkass Woobie. What, with leaving Hester to be publicly ostracized, while he stands on the sidelines saying nothing almost the entire novel.
    • Dimmesdale neither has the courage to confess and face the consequences or to take the secret to his grave. He chooses the most cowardly possible option by waiting until he only has a few seconds to live to make a confession.

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