How can a community affect an individual ? In the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the characters Dimmesdale and Hester are greatly affected by the community in different ways . At the beginning of the book, Dimmesdale is a young and healthy minister who is seemingly stable both in the mind and body. Yet as time passes on, the community began to affected him. Burden by the guilt from hiding his sin from the rest of the community, he slowly withers away in a shell of his former himself.In Chapter 11, there is a list/description of the various ways he punish himself, including vicious whipping and extreme fasting, causing his health to detoriate. Chapter 12 described him as if he was losing his grip with reality,pulled into a twisted fantasy where he is caught standing on the scaffold of sin, a desperate cry for relief of the storm within his mind. Chapter 17 has him blatantly say that he is torn to know that the whole community looks up to him when in reality he is no better than they are. What should be noted is that Dimmesdale is never directly affected by the community. Never once did the community lash out at him. In fact, they  praise and adore him. It was Dimmesdale himself , who ripped himself apart. The reason ? Simply because he was sicken  by his relationship with his community.

Meanwhile, Hester was also greatly affected by the community. At the beginning of the book, Hester was described as beautiful and feminine. However, because she committed a grave sin, she is separated from the community and look down upon. Over time, due to the insults, remarks and treatment she received, her physical appearance has become bland and her personality more aggressive. It is assumed that she became more modest looking over the years for in chapter 18, it was described that after she removed the scarlet letter, “ the whole richness of her beauty, came back from what men call the irrevocable past”. In chapter 13 , her personality was described that “ all the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red-hot brand, and had long ago fallen away, leaving a bare and harsh outline which might have been repulsive.” Her change is different from Dimmesdale’s however because Hester was directly affected by it, the scorn of the townspeople turning her into the woman she is now. Dimmesdale and Hester both demonstrate that the community can affect individuals in different ways, directly and indirectly.

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The Birmingham Jail Letter by Martin Luther King Jr. also demonstrates how community affects individuals. In the letter, Martin Luther King Jr. explains his reasoning for advocating civil rights for.He describes that the community violently abuses colored people and  make colored children feel inferior through segregation laws. In this example, the community is directly affecting Martin Luther King Jr. though harming/hurting the people he loves/cares for, such as his children and his people. By witnessing this injustice caused by the community with his own eyes , it inspired him to becoming a civil rights leader . Had the community been different in the way that everyone was treated fairly, Martin Luther king might have never been a civil rights leader .


Aria , by Richard Rodriguez, is another example on how community affects individuals . In the essay, Richard describes his troubles growing up in an american community when his ‘true community’ was Hispanic. Due to his his limited understand of English as a child and because of his Hispanic heritage, Rodriguez felt unconnected from the american community he was surrounded in. This cause him to be be a quite and shy individual in school who only opened up at home. Later on, he describes that further on in his life , when his siblings and he became accustom to English,  how that changed his parents. Through joining the american community and inadvertently leaving the Hispanic community, Rodriguez and his siblings weakened ties with their parents, affecting on how they both acted. Their mother became restless, fishing for any opportunity to hear more of her children talking while their father on the other hand,eventually became silent.


As you can see, communities can affect individuals in different ways, some directly and some indirectly.


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