The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the struggles of a young woman, Hester Prynne, a women found
guilty of adultery. Hester's punishment is to wear the scarlet letter “A” to inform the entire town that this woman is a sinner. Throughout the novel, the reader comes to know Hester, the sinner, Reverend Dimmesdale, the minister that Hester had an affair with; and Chillingworth, Hester’s estranged husband whose vengeful mission is to get back at Dimmesdale. The
scarlet letter shows the interactions of these characters and the reaction of these characters to Hester's sin. The unacknowledged sin that Hawthorne deals with in The Scarlet Letter is hypocrisy. All three main characters, Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, commit the sin of hypocrisy. Hawthorne shows that hypocrisy is indeed a sin by punishing the offenders in various ways including isolation, misery, and even death.
Hester’s strength and independence allows her to deal with her sin maturely. Instead of running away from humiliation, she owns her punishment and accepts it for what it is. However, Hester surrenders to the will of the court, even though for a short time she feels as though her punishment was unfair, and that she was not a sinner at all. In the prison while Hester was appealing her case to him she says, "Thou knowest, thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any" (Hawthorne Ch. 4; 51). Later on while speaking to Dimmsdale, Hester further tries to prove her innocence by saying, “What we did had a consecration of its own. We
felt it so" (Hawthorne Ch.17; 194). Therefore Hester believes she has not committed a sin at all. The fact that she accepted th...
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...s himself. The evil that was fueling him, in the end took his life.
With the punishment of these characters Hawthorne show that hypocrisy is a sin just as horrible as adultery by giving punishments to the offenders such as a lifetime of torture, mental and physical, and death. The true sin of the scarlet letter is not adultery it is hypocrisy. Theses characters sin of adultery ultimately leads them to becoming hypocrites and sinning more. If society was much more accepting back then these men and women would not have had to suffer for their entire lives and ultimately life would have been harmonious for these individuals. Adultery is just a sin that was a building block, for the black hole that is hypocrisy.
Hawthorn e, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Dover Thrift Publications, 1994. Print.
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