A/N: I've been having some difficulties with format recently, so please bear with me. I'm sorry if it's difficult to read - the lyrics should be in italics. I went a little overboard with an English assignment and thought hey, why not?

Heroes: A Take on Character Perception in The Scarlet Letter

Not gonna miss you when you're dead and gone

Not gonna talk about you over and over and over

Not gonna file you under latest nostalgia

Nor happily ever after

Hester Prynne watched the man who used to be her husband walk away with the basket of strange herbs and dark plants swinging on his arm. Roger Chillingworth was a new man, not the man she married so many years ago. She barely recognized him now. She held no debt to this strange man of darkness and evil. She could no longer stand by and watch as he slowly drained the man she loved - though she would only confess to herself - of his strength, his health, and his will to live.

Not gonna listen to your played-out songs (Played-out songs)

Don't wanna think about you over and over and over

Not gonna read about the latest fads on your trendy blog

I want nothing to do with that

She had put it off for years. She had distanced herself from him, simply assuming that her reverend was growing weaker with worship, with some sincere sickness, or with some kind of regret or guilt or maybe even - if she dare hope - love which he was forbidden to fulfill. But that night when he had called Hester and Pearl - their daughter - up to the scaffolding to share a moonlit vigil with him, she realized what had been paining him. It was not simply guilt that ailed him, but the creature poking at his heart with a sickening glee, the Black Man whose tonics and herbs and newest medicines did nothing to alleviate the poor man's pain, but only worsen it and lengthen his struggle.

'Cause you've made a mess of everything

(And I'm not listening)

It was him she blamed.

Roger Chillingworth, this new man, had condemned both her and Arthur Dimmesdale to lives of torment, suffering under his all-knowing gaze. He had said on more than one occasion that it was her punishment to live a life branded, to suffer under public gaze for as long as she lived. Her torment dulled as those in charge of executing her punishment, the townspeople, grew bored with her sin and noticed her good deeds instead. Yet it only dulled, for in Hester's heart, the letter still seared.

Still, she didn't care that much for the lengthened torment he had sentenced her to, but more for the anguish he inflicted upon him whom she loved. She watched, helplessly bound by her word, as Arthur Dimmesdale grew weaker and paler and less passionate, only a painfully pitiful emaciated ghost of the man she had known.

Roger Chillingworth was to blame for the stretch of anguish both she and her former lover had endured. It could continue no longer.

You're not a hero, you're a liar

You're not a savior, you're a vampire

Sucking the life out of all the friends you've never known

"He was my husband!" Hester cried in her last moment of confession, determined to help him see the enemy at hand.

Arthur Dimmesdale realized that his intuition had been correct to warn him of the strange nature of his friend and physician and chastised himself for questioning the conclusion. Chillingworth was out to punish him, he could tell now. He understood all of the physician's treatments and discussions of character and religion. Everything fell into place.

You're just a train wreck, not a winner

Up on your soapbox, preaching down to the sinners

A saint without a cause, we're not listening

We're not listening

Try as he may, Arthur Dimmesdale never felt he could really tell his congregation what he always meant to say. His fasts and vigils and self-punishments were all translated into devoted actions in the minds of his worshipping flock. Try as he may, they would never see the truth until it was proven. He could never attain repentance for that which he himself condemned as he read scripture to his pupils.

He begged Hester for a way out, a way to repent, to wash himself of the sin and start over, begin as a new person.

I'm gonna start a revolution

Of convoluted disillusions (Start a revolution)

I'll lead a war with no conclusion

And in the final hour, I'll be a confident coward

Hester had no other method of biblical repentance, not able to surpass a reverend in holy punishments. She offered another solution to cleanse him of sin and make him a new man: she suggested he find another town along the New England coast, a town perhaps mirroring Boston, but without the prior knowledge of who he was or what he had done or how his secret lover had been cast into the shame of the public.

When he declined, she suggested next returning from whence he had come, to some holy land in the Old World of Europe. There he could study and preach perhaps even more rigorously and maybe in that way cleanse himself of his past.

At her encouragement, he only protested his weakness and claimed he would die from his shame, in the same town the shame was born, alone.

'Cause if we stand for nothing, we'll fall for anything

It was then that she took his hand. "Not alone," she told him softly as she met his eyes.

You're not a hero, you're a liar

You're not a savior, you're a vampire

Sucking the life out of all the friends you've never known

Pearl saw her mother join hands with the reverend and thought nothing of it, but when she glanced across the brook and saw the bright letter which she adored so much missing, her world fell apart.

She had been taught that the bright, blazing, brilliant A was a sign of humility, a mark of repentance and a lesson to be learned. Now that the letter had been discarded, a halo of proud selfishness danced around the woman who looked like her mother in the form of the yellow sunlight which glinted off the long, dark hair, no longer hidden by the submissive cap.

Without the letter, the woman who stood in front of her was not her mother. She was not Hester Prynne.

In defiance, Pearl returned to her play, knowing that when her mother called her back, she would be tucked into the red, emblazoned bosom she knew so well.

You're just a train wreck, not a winner

Up on your soapbox, preaching down to the sinners

A saint without a cause, we're not listening

We're not listening

Hester had been outcast due to her love before, under guise of a sin. Although she believed their love consecrated in the eyes of God, that did not mean it was in the eyes of man, the eyes of the men who had sentenced her to a life of torment and repentance and shame.

She had decided seven years ago to remain in the town where her sin had been committed to serve her sentence. But deep inside herself, she knew her decision was not made out of practical morality. It was a selfish decision then and a selfish decision now. But he had asked for a solution and she had provided ones which she saw fit.

He would never know what had settled at the bottom of her heart, that little sliver of self-gratification she had gone so long without.

Now this is moving in the same direction

But I'm a little too spent to care

Kneeling on the cold, dead leaves of the forest floor, Arthur Dimmesdale looked up into the face of Hester Prynne, into that beautiful, feminine face, so full of hope for the future, and knew in that moment just what he intended to do; he would flee, with Hester by his side.

The sensible part of his mind tried to remind him where thoughts like this had led him before. Thoughts of love, of happiness, thoughts that told him all was right in the world, which had coalesced into more suffering than either of them had imagined. But it was that suffering - his pain, his sickness, his weakness, and mostly his fear - that led him to this conclusion, this happy, wonderful escape.

'Cause it's a battlefield till it blows over

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Back in the harsh daylight of the open town, he did all he could to keep maniacal cackles locked deep inside him. Tempted left and right with new sins, now that he had finally given himself completely to the sin he had committed those seven years ago, he struggled to maintain his conscience, his good will, his honesty as a minister of the town.

He dodged all possible attacks on his integrity, both from outward temptation and inward cravings, and hurried home where he knew his supposed friend would be waiting to treat his ailments.

We throw stones though we live in glass houses

We talk shit like it's a cross to bear

You're only relevant 'til you get older

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

(Enemies closer)

After turning Roger Chillingworth away and rejecting the satanic man's medications, he sat down to write his new Election Sermon. As the words of mild confession and resignation filled the page, they called to mind his doubts.

He had thought all was solved until Pearl wouldn't come near him. He had expected, to a point, that she wouldn't like him, as most children didn't, but Hester had persuaded him to hope just a little. She had that power over him; she somehow managed to make his chest swell in happy anticipation for the future, for their future. However, those hopes were dashed when Pearl threw a fit at the sight of her mother without the blazing A, without her inhibitions, without fear of who she was.

Arthur Dimmesdale knew that the child would most likely grow to love him as he slowly took his role in her life, but something nagged at the back of his mind, something not quite right about her reaction.

More doubts filled his mind as he remembered the only gossip in town was talk of sin. Had Hester's sin been erased from the town in the seven long years that they both had suffered? Would those they left behind speak of their strange disappearances that just happened to coincide? Would he be haunted by the thought of his sin reaching further ears, by the fear of being convicted for a crime committed so many years ago?

They're gonna miss me when I'm dead and gone

They're gonna talk about me over and over and over

They're gonna file me under latest nostalgia

And happily ever after

The ship they were to board would leave in four days, one day after his Election Sermon. Arthur Dimmesdale decided it the best time to conclude his teachings in Boston. He was revered in this town - far too revered. It was time for someone new to take his place, someone else to lead his flock not unto temptation, someone more suited for the job than he.

He planned to neatly conclude his service to his church of Boston and leave no end untied. He planned - hoped - to leave on good terms with the town and with Hester and maybe even himself, if God be forgiving.

He prayed that God be forgiving.

But I'm not a hero, I'm a liar

I'm not a savior, I'm a vampire

Sucking the life out of all the friends I've never known

Dimmesdale knew it was he himself who had thrown them all into these lives of despair. If not for his misguided actions, his selfishness, Hester would have been an ordinary, happy townsperson. Chillingworth would have arrived in due time to take her back as his bride and care for her. Dimmesdale would never have had to punish himself with old Roman rituals, trying desperately in vain to wash the sin away, scourge it from his skin. Pearl would have never been brought into the world with her impish dances and frighteningly fiendish laughter. Life would have been normal, for them all.

It was more than the guilt of the sin that compelled him to punish himself.

We're a train wreck, not winners

On a soapbox, preaching down to the sinners

Saints without a cause, we're not listening

They each blamed themselves for the sins they couldn't control, the sins of their nature. They tried their best to repent to themselves, to each other, to those surrounding them, those who judged their behavior and reported in confessions or prayers.

We're not listening

Chillingworth could not simply accept the passing of his marriage due to his lack of compassion for his wife. They both must be punished gravely.

We're not listening

Hester could not lay off the ornate symbol of her sin without creating another persona, one who had never sinned to begin with, and could only see one way out.

We're not listening

Dimmesdale could not leave his followers with a bad image of him, could not bear to see his years of torment and hope of salvation be dashed on the few words of a ruined reputation. He felt he had to live out his hypocrisy just a few moments longer.