The Sin of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter
Is the exposed sin of one worse than the hidden sin of another? In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hester Prynne is forced by the small puritan community in the 1600’s to wear a scarlet letter A, standing for adulterous. Her husband had sent her to the New World before him, because he had to settle affairs. When he finally arrives two years later Hester has a newborn daughter named Pearl, who cannot be his child. Her husband under the pseudo name Roger Chillingworth vows to find Hester’s lover, who the readers later find out to be Arthur Dimmesdale, the town religious leader. When analyzing the novel one finds a vast difference between exposed sin, and hidden sin.
Hester Prynne’s exposed sin is her adultery. She is punished not by death or jail time but by public humiliation. Hester was ordered by the town authority to wear “the ignominious letter on her breast…” (Hawthorne 52). The “ignominious”, or shameful letter A is her punishment for having unmarried sex in the community. To Hester the scarlet letter acts like a force field, keeping people at bay and isolating Hester from the town. “From the intense consciousness of being the object of severe and universal observation, the wearer of the scarlet letter.” (Hawthorne 56). This quote exemplifies the loneliness Hester feels. Her exposed sin has made her the poster child for unrighteousness. No one wants to be associated with her, when she walks down the street people move out of the way, even priests, and children avoid her path. The only way for Hester to be assimilated back into society is to work at it and be patient. Seven years after she is given the scarlet letter the hatred of her is greatly diminished. Due to Hester’s impressive ne...

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... dimmsdale. He finally admits his sin and is now at peace. He soon dies afterwards, the strain of keeping his sin hidden proved too much for him.
In conclusion one finds that the exposed sin of Hester caused extreme social isolation, where only time and effort can get her assimilated back into society. The hidden sin in Roger Chillingworth’s life caused him to go mad, and become satanic. Arthur Dimmesdale’s hidden sin ended up killing him. When analyzing the novel one finds a vast difference between exposed sin, and hidden sin. This difference is evident in the fate of these three characters. Hester, the only one with exposed sin, did not get harmed physically, and was just ostracized by society. Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale both had hidden sin, of these two men one ended up dead, and the other went mad. Therefore...

Works Cited

Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
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