Scarlet Letter And Sin Essay Research Paper

Scarlet Letter And Sin Essay, Research Paper

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. "On the

breast of her gown, in a fine red cloth surrounded by an elaborate embroidery

and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter ‘A.’" Hester’s

scarlet "A" serves as a public symbol of her private sin. Because

Hester is able to declare her guilt openly, she is freed from excessive remorse,

and her sin serves to enrich and dignify rather than to destroy her. The letter

makes her stronger and more an individual. As foreshadow as Hawthorne speaks of

the scarlet letter, "..It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the

ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself,"

Hester indeed does isolate herself, and stays "…. out of the sphere of

social activity.." and moves out to an isolated cottage. Hester decides

that "Here….had been the scene of her guilt, and here should be the scene

of her earthly punishment, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge

her soul and work out another purity than that which she had lost; more

saintlike, because of the result of matyrdom. Hester Prynne, therefore did not

flee." This is where she sinned, this shall be where she suffers and gives

penance. As expected, Hester is at first shunned and humiliated by the

townspeople, who ignore their own faults and project them onto Hester, and then

later their children project them onto Pearl, who does not have the "divine

maternity" of Hester, who can do no wrong. Hester behaves with decorum and

grace, helping others who are hungry, sick, or in need. Slowly the disdain of

the townspeople turns to admiration, "…Many people refused to interpet

the scarlet "A" by it’s orginial signification. They said it meant

"Able"…" and Hester becomes a respected person in a Puritan

society by overcoming one of the harshest punishments, the scarlet letter. All

in all, in the conclusion of the book, Hawthorne demondstrats to us that Hester

Prynne and Arthur Dimmsdale, whom both commited the same sin, but dealt and

lived with it in completly different ways, were ultimately both forgiven. We

learn that their graves were next to one another, but "..with a space

inbetween, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle." but,

in the end "Yet one tombstone served for both." Finally, we are left

with: "On a Field, Sable, The Letter A Gules." 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.

He lacks the courage to risk his important position in society by admitting his

sin publicly, but is unable to achieve any inner calm while living with his

hypocrisy. 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. Publicly he becomes more and more passionate and effective in

his sermons and moral counsil to his congregation. Privately he is torn with

self-hatred, and his body wastes away because of the remorse and knowing what

only he and Hester know gnaws at his soul. He has not confessed, therefore he

knows he can’t begin his true penance, thus never being forgiven. He finally has

the courage to do so at the hour of his death.


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