Scarlet Letter And Evil Problem Essay Research

Scarlet Letter And Evil Problem Essay, Research Paper

The virtue of truth and the evil of secret sin are clearly illustrated in the

novel, The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The three main

characters in this novel display their own honesty and sins. Hester Prynne

exhibits the essence of truth and pride when she bravely faces the humiliation

of the scaffold. In chapter 17, when Hester apologizes to Dimmesdale about

concealing Chillingworth?s identity, she says, ?In all things else, I have

striven to be true! Truth was the one virtue which I might have held, and did

hold fast, through all extremity?A lie is never good, even though death

threaten on the other side (pg. 202)!? It is Hester?s pride, which sustains

her from the beginning of the novel to the end, when she dies, still sporting

the scarlet A on her bosom. Hester?s sin is the sin which gives the book its

title and around which the action of the book resolves. Adultery, which was

prohibited by the Seventh Amendment, was usually punished by death. A woman in

the crowd stated, ?At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot

iron on Hester Prynne?s forhead?She may cover it (the scarlet letter) with a

brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as

ever (pg. 53)!? Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale shows truth by his occupation.

People living in Boston, Massachusetts looked up to and respected Dimmesdale

because he was a minister. One of his sins was his inability to publicly

acknowledge that he committed adultery with Hester and that he is the father of

Pearl, Hester?s daughter. However, adultery was not his biggest sin. His

biggest sin is hypocrisy. In chapter ten, he speaks of the concealment of his

sins, he says, ?It may be that they are kept silent by the very constistution

of their nature. Or-can we not suppose it-guilty as they may be, retaining,

nevertheless, a zeal for God?s glory and man?s welfare?no evil of the past

be redeemed by better service (pg. 137).? While trying to conceal his sins,

they take over his conscience and literally confess themselves during his acts

of madness. The third main character, Roger Chillingworth, is a pretty innocent

man in the beginning of this book. He comes to America to be reunited with his

wife, Hester, but soon comes to find out that she has committed adultery.

Chillingworth has however committed two sins also. One of them being against

nature. He says, ?A man already in decay, having given my best years to feed

the hungry dream of knowledge, -what had I to do with youth and beauty like

thine own (pg. 77)!? Sin, in actuality, begins to take possession of

Chillingworth when he noticed Hester on the scaffold. Chillingworth eventually

destroys himself. As he is talking to Hester in chapter fourteen when he has

realized what has happened between Hester and Dimmesdale, he says, ?Dost thou

remember me? Was I not, though you might deem me cold, nevertheless a man

thoughtful for others, craving little for himself, -kind, true, just, and of

constant, if not warm affections? Was I not all this (pg. 180)?? As shown in

the novel, each individual character displayed both senses of truth and evil.

Some were less severe than others, but still sins. Overall, a lesson of purity

is developed throughout the book.


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