The 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 evil." (2:16). However, Eve was tempted and fell from God's grace by plucking from "the tree of knowledge of good and evil", which resulted in her and Adam's expulsion from the Garden, shame, and a consequential, permanent disposition to choose evil. The most important consequen... ... middle of paper ... ...rne's writing reveals his intention in The Scarlet Letter 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 humanity's fallen nature. Works Cited The Catholic Youth Bible: New American Bible Revised Edition. Winowa: Saint Mary's Press, 2005. Print. Londhe, Sachin. "Sin, Guilt, and Regeneration in The Scarlet Letter." Review of Research I.IV (2012): 49-53. Academic Journals Database. Web. 22 May 2014. Young, R.V.. "Individual and Community in The Scarlet Letter." The Imaginative Conservative I.I (2013): The Imaginative Conservative. Web. 24 May 2014. Thompson, Lehtie Chalise. "A Moral Wilderness: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter." MS thesis Boise State University Graduate College, 2011. Web. 22 May 2014.

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