The Scarlet Letter Essay, Research Paper
Reader Response Essay
Nathaniel Hawthorne, relative of the cruel Judge Hathorne, set out to write a novel about the consequence of sin. The main theme that I brought from Nathaniel Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter, was that there are consequences for negative actions, and doing good can yield positive results. This was exemplified through the actions of the various characters, and how it affected them.
Hester was a great example on the consequence of sin. In the beginning of the book, Hester was in disarray because her sin was open. She was feeling the consequences of her sin through the community, like when the ministers would write a sermon on adultery whenever she went to church, or how the people would point to her and talk about her whenever she would walk by. Later on, Hester becomes more accepted by the community through her helping the sick, poor, and dying. I think that this also shows the reward of being good, and helping thy fellow man . Hester also started to stray from the path of good, when she suggested that she and Dimmesdale would run away together, she was discouraged when she found out that Chillingworth planned to follow them. This showed me that just planning to do something bad would lead to more pain. The story of Hester shows that when she has committed evil and sinned, then there have been penalties for her mistakes, but when she tries to make up for her mistakes, she is able to shine.
Chillingworth, who had been Dr. Prinn, also sees the consequence of sin. Chillingworth didn t commit the major sin in the beginning, but his sin of evil grew to where the consequence was his life. Chillingworth s sin started when he saw Hester in the jail with Pearl, and he made a promise, that he would read the A on her partner s heart. This meant that instead of practicing the Christian ideal of forgiving, he took it upon himself to torture another. By doing this, he committed a sin of his own that corrupted him with an evil that was evident to the community. This continued on until the end of the book, when Dimmesdale got on the scaffold and confessed his sin. After that, Chillingworth s purpose in life disappeared, and so he died the next year. I think this showed that his sin was the worst because it stripped him from any other joys, and it made the only reason for him living, which is a very hollow existence. I see Chillingworth as the possibility for good, the innocent victim that seeks revenge, but takes it into his own hands, negating the whole purpose of justice.
Dimmesdale was a very controversial character of sin in The Scarlet Letter. Dimmesdale s first sin was the adultery with Hester, but unlike Hester, he was never publicly exposed. Dimmesdale s greatest consequence came from within himself. Because Dimmesdale was never open with his confession, he felt the guilt of dealing with the pain of sin all by himself, and this guilt was only increased by the fact that he was the minister of a religion that stressed confession. For penance, Dimmesdale did very harsh things to himself to increase his pain, like he whipped himself, he carved an A on his heart, and he would pick at the wounded flesh. It was good that he did feel guilty for his actions, and the good that came from his guilt was shown through his more moving sermons. Then when Hester told Dimmesdale that they would run away together, that was running from his confession, which wasn t good. The consequence of these actions came quickly through his evil thoughts, like when he wanted to corrupt a young virgin, and teach kids bad words, and do other things. This finally took its toll on Dimmesdale when Dimmesdale could feel his life fleeting from his body, and he finally confessed his sin before dying.