An Everlasting Sin Essay, Research Paper
During the time that The Scarlet Letter was written, such authors such as Emerson and Thoreau were busy with writings of optimism (vii ). Then came along Nathaniel Hawthorne who’s novel was an allegory, that gave the four main characters dual personalities. Throughout the course of the book, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses each scene to illustrate the immediate, delayed, and prolonged effects that the sin of adultery and or revenge, has on the four main characters: Hester, Pearl, Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne, through the eyes of the Puritans, is an extreme sinner; she has gone against the Puritan ways, committing adultery. For this irrevocably harsh sin, she must wear a symbol of shame for the rest of her life. She is a beautiful, young woman who has sinned, but is forgiven. Hawthorne portrays Hester as “divine maternity” and she can do no wrong. Not only Hester, but the physical scarlet letter, a Puritanical sign of disownment, is shown through the author’s tone and diction as a beautiful, gold and colorful piece. Hester’s physical stature is also portrayed as ” light” and “darkness”, throughout the novel. Her good side is her beauty, that shows only when the letter is off her bosom. Darkness is casted when she bears the letter exclaimed by young pearl: ” Mother, the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on your bosom. Now see! There it is, a good way off. It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet. ” ( 192) Hester Prynne lived out her live to the fullest always hoping and caring for pearl. Pearl, Hester’s child, is portrayed Puritanically, as a child of sin who should be known as, ugly, evil, and shamed. The reader more evidently notices that Hawthorne carefully, and sometimes not subtly at all, places Pearl above the rest. She wears colorful clothes, is extremely smart, pretty, and nice. More often than not, she shows her intelligence, and free thought. One of Pearl’s favorite activities is playing with flowers and trees. (The reader will recall that anything affiliated with the forest was evil to Puritans. To Hawthorne, however, the forest was beautiful and natural.) “And she was gentler here [the forest] than in the grassy- margined streets of the settlement, or in her mother’s cottage. “The flowers appeared to know it” (194) Pearl fit in with natural things. Pearl is always effervescent and joyous, which is definitely a negative to the Puritans. Pearl also and example of “light” and “darkness”, is bright and vivid through colors , but is perceived as a misbehaved rug-rat. After the death of Dimmesdale it is almost shocking in the change of pearl. Pearl later becomes very wealthy and leads a very well life.
Hesters husband, Roger Chillingworth, has just seen Hester for the first time in two years. Evidently, it is on the scaffold, for being unfaithful to him. He is naturally surprised. It does not last for long though , because it is his nature to control his emotions. ( 61 ) Roger, who used to be a scholar, dedicated his best years ” to feed the hungry dreams of knowledge .” This unfortunately, is the only good thing that comes from roger Chillingworth. Chillinworth who sacrifices everything to seek revenge. He soon becomes obsessed with his new mission in life. eventually as time goes on, the affects of Chillingworth on Dimmesdale is evident. After spending so much time dwelling on revenge, Chillinworth forgets that he still has a chance to lead a life of his own. So accordingly, after Dimmesdale reveals his secret to the world, Chillingworth dies less than a year later because he has nothing left to live for. ” nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place, almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale’s death, in the appearance and demeanor of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth. All of his strength and energyall his vital and intellectual force – seemed at once to desert him;” ( 236 ) To most, but especially the Puritans, one of the most important members of a community is the religious leader. ;Arthur Dimmesdale is no exception. He was held above the rest, and this is proven in one of the first scenes of the book. As Hester is above the townspeople on a scaffold, Dimmesdale, Governor Wilson, and others are still above her. But, as the reader soon discovers, Arthur Dimmesdale is his own worst enemy. He hates himself and must physically inflict pain upon himself. “He thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself” to never forget what he has done (141). To Dimmesdale, it is bad that Hester is shown publicly as a sinner, but people forget that. What is far worse than public shame is Dimmesdale’s own cruel inner shame. Knowing what only he and Hester know, the secret eats away at every fiber of Dimmesdale’s being. As gods servant it is in his nature to tell the truth, so instead of leaving with Hester, he chooses to confess and repent his sin publicly. Dimmesdale does exactly that and asks, ” Hester and pearl to join him yet again on the scaffold. “( 264 ) Arthur Dimmesdale then shows the letter A and dies. In closing, one important reason that The Scarlet Letter is so well known is the way Hawthorne leaves the novel open to be interpreted several different ways. . Throughout the course of the book, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses each scene to illustrate the immediate, delayed, and prolonged effects that the sin of adultery and or revenge, has on the four main characters: Hester, Pearl, Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hawthorne concludes the novel when he says ” be true! be true! be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worse, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred! ” ( 272) The Scarlet Letter will remain a classic because it includes sin, punishment, and guilt, emotions that will be felt by readers to come.