The Scarlet Letter: One Sin: Two Consequences

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A sin is defined as any act regarded as a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale were forced to face the realities and hardships of committing a mortal sin in the eyes of a predominately Puritan society. Seven years after moving to America alone, Hester assumed her husband, Roger Chillingworth, to be dead and had moved on with the town minister—Dimmesdale. The two lovers ended up having a child out of wedlock, which ensured them the public scorn from their community. Hester, while raising their illegitimate child, Pearl, was ostracized by society and required to wear a scarlet letter, “A,” on her chest as a sign of her wrongdoing. Dimmesdale remained the unknown father of Pearl, by keeping his sin a secret from the townspeople. Because of their unique circumstances, Hester and Dimmesdale were ultimately affected differently by the same sin. Hester was audacious and accepting about the sin, while Dimmesdale was secretive and suffered.

By wearing the scarlet letter as a daily reminder, Hester didn’t let her sin overshadow her defined character. Her beliefs and independence weren’t compromised. In fact, she was able to use the letter as a positive thing to help the community and repent. Hester’s work as a seamstress and her charitable deeds quieted the scorn from society. She believed that the letter “hath taught [her],--it daily teaches [her]…lessons whereof [Pearl] may be the wiser and better…” (98). Even though she may have been “doomed” by society at first, Hester was able to make Pearl a better person by using the valuable lessons she learned from wearing the scarlet letter. ...

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...his life causing him more harm than good.

In The Scarlet Letter, the sin of adultery had two major effects on its sinners. For Hester Prynne, the sin made her a stronger, more independent woman in society. She was able to overcome her punishment of wearing the letter and the guilt she was reminded of everyday. Hester believed that she committed a sin of passion, not principle, while Dimmesdale disagreed. He physically harmed himself to make up for the guilt he felt about Hester having to bear the burden put on her by society from their shared crime. He was also stuck in a rut between both the “sinner” and the “minister” that were fostered within him. While Hester lives a productive and moral life, Dimmesdale finally reveals the truth to the community. Tragically, he falls dead from all the anguish he had put himself through.

Works Cited
The Scarlet Letter
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