The Scarlet Letter Essay Essay Research Paper

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The Scarlet Letter Essay Essay, Research Paper Sin is defined in the dictionary as a transgression against God. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author analyzes sin. The Scarlet Letter is a gloomy novel, but is effective in explaining the beliefs of older Americans and the taboos of older society. He details the adultery of Hester Prynne, who has a baby with Arthur Dimmesdale, an unmarried pastor. Hester s husband Roger Chillingworth, a physician, figures out that Dimmesdale is the father and subtly tortures him for years. In describing the story of these characters, Hawthorne examines sin and how it affects their lives. Hester is shunned by society, while Dimmesdale becomes weaker and weaker through the years, tormented by his sin as well as by

Chillingworth. Chillingworth himself becomes obsessed and consumed over his desire for revenge. Through Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, Hawthorne displays an ambiguous view of sin. However, in the end of the novel the characters are punished for their sins. By the end, it becomes clear that Hawthorne believes that adultery, hiding a sin, and revenge are all sins that deserve punishment. Sin is a vice that can be overcome by penance over time, but basically sin, once committed, is a stigma on a person forever. Hawthorne s message at the end is that sin can either be punished lightly by society, or that sin can be hidden from society, but sin cannot be hidden from God. God always punishes sin, but the punishment can be overcome in the greatest circumstances. Hester s sin is

her adultery, which goes against Puritan societal values as well as God s commandments. After being punished by the people for her sin, though, she is not able to easily overcome her desires. Hester lives with Pearl in a cottage, but her love for Dimmesdale does not diminish. Upon her release from prison Hester s motives for remaining in Boston are not entirely pure; It might be -doubtless it was so, although she hid the secret from herself There dwelt, there trode the feet of one with whom she deemed herself connected in a union (80). The punishments of the scaffold viewing, the scarlet A , and the time in prison are supposed to eliminate Hester s adulterous desires, but she still has desires after her punishment. Hester is punished by society, but God does not yet take action

against her. But at the end of the novel, it seems apparent that Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl will leave for the Old World together, but Dimmesdale s death prevents Hester s happiness. Dimmesdale s death is God s punishment to Hester, because of Hester s adulterous thoughts after her initial punishment of jail and the A on her chest. Then, Hawthorne explains Hester s punishment with Dimmesdale s words, The law we broke!-the sin here so awfully revealed!-let these alone be in thy thoughts! I fear! I fear! It may be that, when we forgot our God,-when we violated our reverence each for the other s soul,-it was thenceforth vain to hope that we could meet hereafter, in an everlasting and pure reunion (269). Dimmesdale tells Hester that it was a vain hope that they could be together

after he and Hester violated God s rules. He is basically saying that she is a sinner and she can never be saved in God s eyes. By means of the pastor s words, Hawthorne explains that Hester needs to remember her sin and fear the wrath of God. Hester did not do either, and so she was denied happiness. At the end, she has the least punishment of all the characters, though, because she had the least sin out of everyone. Still, because she did not suffer enough for her sin God does not forgive her. Chillingworth actually sins the most out of all the characters, because he sins twice and violates other people s rights. God punishes Chillingworth the most for his sins. His first sin was his marriage to Hester, which is proven when Hester thinks it seemed a fouler offence committed by