Korobkin's The Scarlet Letter Of The Law: Hawthorne And Criminal Justice

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In the critical essay “The Scarlet Letter of the Law: Hawthorne and Criminal Justice”, author Laura Hanft Korobkin believes that the individual’s obligation to conform to the law is questioned in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter. Roger Chillingworth is perceived as a vigilante, taking the matters of Hester Prynne’s adultery into his own hands in order to reveal her lover. Chillingworth is vengeful, playing every role of the law enforcement in his own way to discover and punish the adulterer, however assuring Hester that he would not subject him to the colony’s courts. In fact, the author states, “The power to judge and punish wrongdoing, the novel suggests, must remain with the public authorities because, whereas [vigilantism] undermines the peaceful order of society, the rule of law is the best hope of preserving it” (Korobkin). I support this statement because, in the novel, Chillingworth as a vigilante is disrupting the order of the society,…show more content…
He admits to Hester his vengeful actions, saying “But it was the constant shadow of my presence!—the closest propinquity of the man whom he had most vilely wronged! —and who had grown to exist only by this perpetual poison of the direst revenge!” (Hawthorne 508). This represents how different the experiences of being punished privately and publicly are, and how the situation would have been handled differently if Dimmesdale were revealed to the public as Hester was, sparing him the pain and torture caused by Chillingworth. Any feelings of remorse and pain were intensified being inflicted from Chillingworth rather than the public, leading to Dimmesdale’s disintegration, both physically and mentally. Publicly, the blame would have been shared between the two, therefore discouraging any ideas of revenge Chillingworth had in

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