The characterization of Hester Prynne reveals that openly admitting to sin improves character and knowledge, which ultimately leads to redemption. Hester realizes that because of the scarlet letter, she now has access to many places previously inaccessible to her. For example, when Hester is in the forest with Dimmesdale, the Narrator recounts that “her sins were the passport into regions where other women dared not tread,” and “Shame, Despair, Solitude” were “her teachers,—stern and wild ones,—and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss” (180). She realizes that because her reputation within her community has been tainted by her sin, her reputation is no longer a worry, allowing her to explore and commit social taboos previously unthinkable. The “Shame, Despair, and Solitude” –all wi...
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... do remember the true meaning of the Scarlet Letter refuse to acknowledge that the letter is a symbol of sin. From the publics’ point of view, if a woman such as Hester Prynne is a “sinner,” then surely all of them must be sinners as well.
Sin, and more importantly the acknowledgment of sin, leads individuals to a betterment of character and life experience. Hester Prynne was liberated from the burdens of her sins much quicker than Dimmesdale was due to openly acknowledging it. Dimmesdale on the other hand was consumed by the agony caused by his concealment of sin, and was only relieved of his burdens when he acknowledged his sin in public. Sin is not shame. Sin does not mean ignominy. Sin is, however, an opportunity—opportunity for redemption, improvement, and learning. These are, however, only opportunities. It is up to the individual to act upon their sins.
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