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Sin and Personal Growth in The Scarlet Letter

Powerful Essays
The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and was first published in 1850. Hawthorne’s purpose for The Scarlet Letter was to show how anybody can sin, and that sin should be used as an example to learn from. Hawthorne also made clear that good can come from sin and that sin can help a person grow.

Hester Prynne is the main character of the book. She is still young when she has her child, Pearl. She is a strong and determined, and uses her past sin, and the “A” as something to learn from rather than something to be ashamed of. After the shame of getting the “A,” she moved into the outskirts of town and became a seamstress. The way she was able to move on from her sin and continue her life, even after being scorned and humiliated, is proof of her strength. Years later, when her sin is almost completely forgotten her benevolence is shown in how she cares for the physical and spiritual needs of people in the community.

Pearl is Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale’s illegitimate daughter. Although Pearl is described as beautiful, throughout the book, she is consistently described as “impish” and “elfish.” These strange descriptions, as well as her odd behavior, make her seem inhuman, and make the townspeople view Pearl as sin-embodied and the devil-child. Pearl is very smart, and even at a young age she becomes aware of the scarlet letter and recognizes that is has some kind of significance. The quote, “One day, as her mother stooped over the cradle, the infant’s eyes had been caught by the glimmering of the gold embroidery about the letter, and, putting up her little hand, she grasped at it, smiling, not doubtfully, but with a decided gleam, that gave her face the look of a much older child.”, shows how she draws attention ...

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... view, Hawthorne writes, “On the wall hung a row of portraits, representing the forefathers of the Bellingham lineage, some with armor on their breast, and others with stately ruffs and robes of peace.”

Hawthorne serves his purpose by combining his detailed characters, his informative writing style, and his ongoing themes throughout the book. Some of his predominant themes in the book are how sin can lead to personal growth and the battle between good and evil. Over the seven years of wearing the scarlet letter, Hester grew a lot, and after finding out about Chillingworth, Dimmesdale underwent a change as well. The way that sin can lead to personal growth is seen in their lives. The battle of good and evil is seen in the lives of Reverend Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. Evil needs good in order to survive. Soon after Dimmesdale’s death, Chillingworth died as well.