Hester Prynne has a fairly unconventional approach to her “sin.” She does not feel ashamed of her wrong and therefore does not feel guilt as others in The Scarlet Letter do. She is marked with a large “A” for her sin of adultery and embraces this by embroidering the letter. "And never had ...
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23). Since the beginning of time guilt has existed, and in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, guilt illustrates itself through adultery involving Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale resided in New England during The Puritan Age and committed adultery while Hester’s husband was out of town. Hester’s sin did not go unnoticed, as her baby illuminated the situation. While Hester’s mister hid in the shadows, she was branded with a scarlet letter A for adultery as punishment for her sin. The scarlet letter was more than a piece of cloth over her chest; it was reminder to everyone around about Mrs. Prynne’s actions. Hawthorne uses biblical and spiritual allusions to argue that guilt causes individuals to change their lifestyles.
The major theme of the book is shown through the bonds of friendship and how in the most of unlikely circumstances friendship can survive and exist between people possessing an extensive and most restrictive division. A second theme is the evil and the intolerance which existed around these times of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, as seen by the Germans having the Jews in the concentration camp. And the third theme is the curiosity and innocence of Bruno, Shmuel and Gretel, who all seem to fail to properly notice and understand what is really happening in the world around them, all contrasting with the well acknowledgement of others, such as Lt. Kottler.
Guilt and shame haunt all three of the main characters in The Scarlet Letter, but how they each handle their sin will change their lives forever. Hester Prynne’s guilt is publicly exploited. She has to live with her shame for the rest of her life by wearing a scarlet letter on the breast of her gown. Arthur Dimmesdale, on the other hand, is just as guilty of adultery as Hester, but he allows his guilt to remain a secret. Instead of telling the people of his vile sin, the Reverend allows it to eat away at his rotting soul. The shame of what he has done slowly kills him. The last sinner in this guilty trio is Rodger Chillingworth. This evil man not only hides his true identity as Hester’s husband, but also mentally torments Arthur Dimmesdale. The vile physician offers his ‘help’ to the sickly Reverend, but he gives the exact opposite. Chillingworth inflicts daily, mental tortures upon Arthur Dimmesdale for seven long years, and he enjoys it. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all connected by their sins and shame, but what they do in regards to those sins is what sets them apart from each other.
Dealing With Guilt in The Scarlet Letter
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempted to expose the varying ways in which different people deal with lingering guilt from sins they have perpetrated. The contrasting characters of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale ideally exemplified the differences in thought and behavior people have for guilt. Although they were both guilty of committing the same crime, these two individuals differed in that one punished themselves with physical and mental torture and the other chose to continue on with their life, devoting it to those less fortunate than they.
In order to show this difference in the two main characters, they both had to be put on relatively same grounds.
There are many examples of guilt in the book and in life, but the two main themes of these are public and private guilt. Thousands of people live with guilt every day. Some are publicly guilty in a court or for someone like Lance Armstrong, living in infamy. People tend to keep their guilt problems inside, but in the end they’re going to regret it. There are also others who are guilty and nobody even knows yet. In the next month or even possibly week, some celebrity or athlete will be caught cheating, doing drugs, or some things even worse, like in the case of Aaron Hernandez. Guilt is something every single person on planet earth deals with probably just about every day. Whether it be a big event from a year ago or someone just found a pencil on the ground and snatched it up, we are always going to feel it.
Across America, school and college campuses of the nineteen sixties were full of young women, advocating for equal rights. “The women’s anti –war movement was joined by a new generation of more radical young women protesting not only the Vietnam war but also the way in which the traditional women’s peace movement condoned and even enforced the gender hierarchy in which men made war and women wept” (“The Pill and the Sexual Revolution”). The generation before had given birth to radical adolescent women who sought out the rights and provisions of men, with a passion that had not yet been seen before in the fight for equality. In the nineteen sixties, America was a much antithetic place than what it seems to be today. Inequality varied from not just African Americans but to women as well. Women in this era were believed to have just one place, that which in the home, and were expected if they were to work, to receive a lower wage than that of a man. Other inequalities could be mentioned, however the cold hard truth was women was not treated fairly and they were determined to change that. This determination was what led the feminist movement and the numerous women behind it. “In fact, the movement was deeply divided between young and old, upper-class and lower-class, conservative and radical.”(“The 1960s-70s American Feminist Movement: Breaking Down Barriers For Women”). This diverse group of females all began to question traditions, and even beliefs in which they had been raised to conform to.
Everybody feels the harsh sting of shame at some point in their lives, perhaps after cheating on someone, going against social standards, or breaking the law. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main characters, Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, feel shame for the reasons mentioned above after they commit adultery. Set in mid-seventeenth century Boston in a devout Puritan area, the book describes Hester’s public conviction, which causes her to be estranged from society. However, none of the residents know that Dimmesdale is the other person involved in the crime, leading him on a downward spiral of guilt and self-inflicted punishment. This story describes the physical, emotional,
Deception and Punishment in The Scarlet Letter and A Tale of Two Cities
Nathaniel Hawthorn and Charles Dickens in their novels The Scarlet Letter and A
Tale of Two Cities, respectively, both use punishment for deception as a
recurring theme. Although they do so to different degrees and in dissimilar
manners, both authors agree that deception is a sin that requires punishment.
In The Scarlet Letter, the heroine, Hester Prynne conceived a child out
of wedlock. Despite the pleas and demands of the clerical community, she did
not reveal the identity of the father.
Guilt is a strong emotion that affects many people around the world. It can either lead people into a deep and dark abyss that can slowly deteriorate people or it can inspire them to achieve redemption. Guilt and redemption are two interrelated subjects that can show the development of the character throughout a novel. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, are two literary works that convey the connections between guilt and redemption and show the development of the character by using theme and symbolism that are present in the novels.