What is character, and how is character reconstructed from the text?

1. What is character?

Different definitions come from different stance. According to Aristotle, character is necessary as “agent” or “performer” of the action. The main characters in The scarlet letter are Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Mr. Dimmesdale. In this book their different characteristics are performed by their different actions. Hester Prynne loves Dimmesdale, insist of protecting her lover by her own actions.

We can also analyze the characters in this novel by E. M. Forster’s character classification. E. M. Forster divides the character into two types. The one is flat character, and the other is round character. In The scarlet letter, Roger Chillingworth is a flat character. We can see that he always plays the role of pushing the story foreword with the desire of revenge and destruction, while Mr. Dimmesdale belongs to round character. Firstly, he hides his desire of loving Hester in front of public. Then he is afraid of being revealed in front of people. Finally, he admits he is the father of Pearl. All the changes represent his different characteristics in different stages.

2. How is character reconstructed from the text?

There are three opinions about character reconstruction we remained in last class. Process of nomination explains that the importance of the orders and ways in which the different characters appear in a story. In The scarlet letter, Hester Prynne appears in a different way at the beginning with the specific description of the surroundings, which draws our attention to think deeply. Different characters in different story will be reconstructed in different skills. In a logical sense, repetition, similarity, contrast, and implication are always available. For example, in A Rose for Emily, people always see Emily riding with Homer Baron regardless of the townspeople, which reflects her stubbornness. In some stories, the writer deliberately design a episode of dreaming to reflect the real psychological and physical state of the characters. When we see a boy hates his father and love his mother, we may relate it to Oedipus complex which has been widely used in western literary works.