Salvation through Acceptance of Mankind's Fallen Nature In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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As detailed in stories, tales, and fables throughout history, mankind has struggled against temptation and sin since the beginning of time. In Christianity, this struggle is characterized as the repercussion of Original Sin and man's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. In his distinguished historical, romance novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne ¬¬¬¬¬uses this biblical base to articulate his own beliefs concerning sin and redemption. Hawthorne propagates many of his beliefs throughout the novel in the experiences and scandalous affair of two of its protagonists, Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and their conflicting emotions towards the religious values of their Puritan community and their individual feelings of repentance and acceptance. Through the contrast of Puritanical beliefs, that redemption is achieved only by the suppression of the passions due to man's fallen nature, to Hawthorne's own beliefs, The Scarlet Letter uses the adulterous sin of Hester and Dimmesdale to asseverate Hawthorne's belief that only the acceptance of man's tendency towards sin can beget personal growth and salvation. To understand Hawthorne's intention for The Scarlet Letter a Christian understanding of Original Sin and the biblical story of Adam and Eve's fall from grace is necessary. In the book of Genesis, God gave Adam and Eve the order that they were "free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad." (2:16). However, Eve was tempted and fell from God's grace by plucking from "the tree of knowledge of good and bad", which resulted in her and Adam's expulsion from the Garden, shame, and a consequential, permanent disposition to choose evil. The most important consequence... ... middle of paper ... ...awthorne's provoking contrast of the Puritanical beliefs of redemption through suppression, as used through the adulterous sin of Hester and Dimmesdale, validates his belief that the acceptance of man's fallen nature and propensity to sin can produce personal growth and salvation. Although both ideas articulate the same intentions of regaining the graces lost by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Hawthorne asserts that the opposing means of achieving redemption by the Puritan religion can result only in deterioration of the physical and or spiritual well-being of the individual. The culmination of Hawthorne's intentions in The Scarlet Letter reveals that although mankind will always continue to battle with their inherent disposition to choose evil over good, salvation is possible for all sinners if there is the recognition and acceptance of man's fallen nature.

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