The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne focuses on the effects sin has on someone’s life. He compares the effects of secret sin and sin that is out in the open. He also makes note of the physical effects and the emotional effects that comes with sin. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth each have sins that they must deal with. Hester committed adultery while her husband was away. When the townspeople find out by seeing her pregnant, she is put on a scaffold in front of the town for all to see her and her sin. She also receives a red “A” that she must wear for the rest of her life. Arthur Dimmsdale, the man Hester cheated with, also does not reveal his sin to the community even though he is the minister of the church and is looked up to by the people. Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, seeks obsessive wrath and revenge towards Dimmesdale and commits his entire life to ruining Dimmesdale’s life. Hawthorne shows through Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth that sin must be confessed for anyone to have the peace that is found in redemption.
Hester Prynne does not have a choice in how to deal with her sin. The townspeople put her on the scaffold to make an example out of her, but they did not make Hester confess. When she came out of the prison she looked beautiful and brave sporting the A that would become a part of her. She did not try to hide her letter or make the letter small, rather she embraced her sin and made it beautiful. Hawthorne illustrates the impact the letter had on the townspeople by saying, “Both men and women who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impressed as if they beheld her for the first time- was that Scarlet Letter, so fa...

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...lp Dimmesdale by moving in with him. Chillingworth’s goal is to get into Dimmesdale’s mind and under his skin. Chillingworth grows uglier and more grotesque as the novel goes on because his outward appearance is reflecting in on his inner hatred, wrath, and jealousy towards Dimmesdale.
Nathaniel Hawthorne believes that the only way to have inner peace is through the confession of one’s sins and the ability to move on from the past. Hester has been made beautiful because she has made the decision to let go of her past. Dimmesdale, however; refuses to admit until the very end of his life when he had nothing left to lose, making his confession less genuine and sincere. This made him weak and emaciated outwardly and inwardly. Chillingworth never forgave Dimmesdale and that made him seek revenge and wrath instead of the peace that comes through confession.
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