Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Term Paper

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[. . .] Huck states, "He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to the woods most of the time when he was around" (Twain 16). Pap's evil qualities are more based in ignorance and fear rather than revenge, and so, they are easier for Huck to deal with. If anything, Pap is a drunkard and a con man, and actually, this contributes to his son's success, because some of the old man's canniness certainly rubs off on Huck, who is canny and perceptive in his own right. His influence over Huck allows Huck to survive on his own, but his influence also shows Huck he likes the free and easy life, and so again, his father has rubbed off on him. For example, Huck runs away and creates a new life for himself. He even gets someone who can writer to spell his new name for him. He states, "I set it down, private, because somebody might want me to spell it next, and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to it" (Twain 138). Huck really is a chip off the old block, but he does not use his canniness to hurt others, unlike his father. He has learned about the evils of beating, and Huck uses his father's con man tactics to his own advantage, taking advantage of others, but not really hurting them, because he leaves something of himself in return. Huck is influenced most positively of all the characters, but that is partly because his story is a comedy, and so, the evil in it must be evil, but not so evil that it cannot be an object of derision and chuckles.

Unlike the other characters, Pap's evil is self-directed, and only really takes in Huck when he beats him and gets drunk around him. Pap does not influence others the way Chillingworth and Ahab do, and his evil is not based in vengeance or hatred. Pap is pitiable and comical because of Huck's amusing descriptions, while the other characters are anything but pitiable. Thus, Pap is the least evil of all three characters, and he is more sympathetic than the others are, because his evil is based on a disease of the body, rather than a disease of the soul. Alcoholism is not funny, but Pap is about as funny as a child beater can get, while there is nothing funny about Ahab and Chillingworth, who are far too serious about their goals of revenge and hatred.

The character who must ultimately be chosen to be most condemned is Ahab, for he is consummate evil. He does not allow his evil to permeate only himself, he allows it to touch and contaminate the lives of others. He has no regard for human life when it comes to his passionate pursuit of the whale, and so, he kills others in his frantic attempt to "win." One crewmember says to him, "but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander's vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab?" (Melville 161). Pip dies in an accident hunting whales, and in the end, Ishmael is the only one to survive Ahab's quest, for the rest of the men perish in the chase. Ahab's madness trickles down to his crew, and his lust for revenge is the worst kind of evil, it is like a cancer that eats from the inside out, and destroys everything it touches.

In conclusion, all three of these characters are influenced by evil, and each of the evildoers has their own characteristics that make them frightening or pitiable. Each author has a different view of good and evil, and each author portrays this using character that come under the influence of evil. Clearly, Hawthorne and Melville's views were concerned with the danger of carrying revenge too far, while Twain was concerned with illustrating the evils of petty larceny and drunkenness, but with a tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Because of this, Melville's and Hawthorne's characters are the characters that live on with the reader, while Pap Finn simply disappears into the mists of time.

References

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Scarlet Letter." Bartleby.com. 2004. 6 April 2004. http://www.bartleby.com/83/index.html

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick Or, the Whale. New York: Hendricks House, 1952.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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