Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter And Society

Literature: Scarlet Letter

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In the novel The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne displays his view of sin in an
assortment of his characters. Through Hester Prynne, he explains her sin of
adultery and how she becomes stronger by it. Reverend Dimmesdale deals with his
sin of adultery personally because he does not reveal the sin, which allows him
to become ill with guilt. The character Pearl is portrayed as a living sin, and
therefore, is constantly being judged. The characters allow the audience to
comprehend Hawthorne’s view of sin. If hidden, sin will destroy, but if
revealed and repented it is capable of making one stronger. One way Hawthorne
develops his view of sin is through Hester Prynne. Hester is charged with
adultery. Through the novel, the audience learns that her sin makes her a
stronger woman; being the 1600’s the punishments were usually severe. She is
forced to wear a scarlet “A” upon her breast to let the community be aware
of her wrongdoing. “Thus she will be living sermon against sin, until the
ignominious letter be engraved upon her tombstone” (59). This quote informs
the readers that Hester must wear the scarlet letter until she leaves the World.
Honestly, Hester’s “badge of shame”(102), makes her a stronger person. The
symbol makes her stronger because she puts up with the harassing comments of the
town. Hester wears the letter with pride. She is aware that her sin is
iniquitous, but by being open about it she is able to become a stronger person.
Hester proves that by repenting and repelling sin, it is truly capable of making
one stronger. Another character who supports Hawthorne’s thought of sin is
Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimesdale’s sin of adultery is worst because he is a symbol
of god. Therefore, Dimmesdale refuses to be opened with his sin. He explains to
Hester, “Happy for you Hester that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your
bosom! Mine burns in secret” (176)! The guilt that Dimmesdale keeps concealed
within his soul eventually beats him and he dies. The shame and guilt he held
within his heart cause his death. Through Reverend Dimmesdale, Hawthorne
develops the idea that when sin is hidden, it often destroys. The last way
Hawthorne acts out sin is through Pearl. Pearl is the product of Dimmesdale and
Hester’s affair. Whenever the community sees Pearl and Hester together, they
assume that Pearl is a devil child because she was born out of sin. “Pearl was
born outcast of the infantile world. An emp of evil, emblem and product of
sin” (86). This quote displays the people’s belief. Hester doesn’t believe
Pearl to be evil, nor does she think Pearl will follow in her footsteps. Hester
said, “I can teach my little Pearl what I have learned from this” (101). For
example, Hester is teaching Pearl the catechism. Many children her age aren’t
aware of it. This proves that Hester is being a virtuous mother. Hester and the
community will have to live with the fact that Pearl is a reminder of the sin.
Hawthorne forms his view of sin clearly in The Scarlet Letter. By the character,
Hester Prynne, he teaches that sin can be a lesson that will make one stronger.
By using the Reverend Dimmesdale, the audience is aware that when sin is hidden,
it can destroy. Pearl is used in the novel, as a reminder of the sin. The novel
portrays sin in a variety of ways, which Hawthorne illustrates in a successful
manner.
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