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.
Scarlet Letter Sin The Scarlet Letter is a novel that deals with the theme of sin. Throughout history, people have committed all types of sins, and whether they are major or minor, people have been punished. However, the severity of a punishment is very difficult to agree on. Some people feel that sinners should be deeply punished no matter how little the wrongdoing was.
Guilt as Reparation for Sin in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter is a novel about a Puritan woman who has committed adultery and must pay for her sin by wearing a scarlet “A'; on her bosom. The woman, Hester Prynne, must struggle through everyday life with the guilt of her sin. The novel is also about the suffering that is endured by not admitting to one’s wrongs. Reverend Mister Dimmesdale learns that secrecy only makes the guilt increase.
“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 Poser of Guilt in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a book that goes far into the lives of the main characters. After establishing the main characters--Hester, Pearl, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth--he shows how each decision they made affects all the others. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth all felt guilty at one point in the novel. Hester had "dark and abundant hair, so glossy that it threw off the sunshine with a gleam, and a face which, besides being beautiful from regularity of feature and richness of complexion, had the impressiveness belonging to a marked brow and deep black eyes" (50).
Guilt is powerful thing. A person’s whole life can be destroyed seconds after being exposed to the strength of guilt. Even though admitting a sin can seem more difficult than not, that confession can often make a world of difference in the long run. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, and Reverend Dimmesdale, have two very different ways of dealing with guilt. These differences in action are what change the courses of their lives. The actions taken by one character are successful, though the actions of the other put his life in ruins. Hester confesses her sin in public, while Dimmesdale does not. This simple choice made causes a drastic change in each of their lives. When comparing the lives of Hester and Dimmesdale,
“Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred” (Hawthorne). As this sentence is read in the The Scarlet Letter, the reader will realize that the main theme of the book is the sentence above. Throughout the book, secret sin damages the lives, soul, and the integrity of the main characters. However, it could have easily been evaded through open confession of their sins. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s purpose in writing this novel is an attempt to influence the reader to openly confess their sins and never be ashamed of who they are. According to Levine, “even though we convey ourselves as saints, we are really sinners (Levine 64). The Scarlet Letter is a classic work of Hawthorne due to the themes it portrays and the relevancy to today’s society. By definition, “A classic is a work of art so universal that it has transcended the boundaries of time and place; it has survived the ‘test of time’” (Lazarus). In the highly symbolic novel, “The Scarlet Letter”, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the effects of hidden sin and his characters’ ultimate release from guilt when they learn to own their sin.
Have you ever been caught in a situation where you want to do something but someone or something was preventing you? This was the state of Hester Prynne
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.