The Themes To Destruction In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1640 Words7 Pages
Near the great Atlantic, in the early Puritan settlement of Boston, heinous sins, those of adultery and hypocrisy, threaten the Puritans holy way of life. Secrets, lies, and deceptions cloud the air in this 17th century town, and once unraveled, lead three once pure hearts into destruction. A simple, scarlet letter “A” comes to represent the errors of these characters, and the corruption of their once unadulterated souls. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne presents the theme that even well-meaning secrets and deceptions can lead to destruction. This theme is constantly present throughout the novel, as the three main characters, adulteress Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Hester’s husband Roger Chillngworth swear secrecy…show more content…
After having admitted to her fault but refusing to say that the town clergyman Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale committed the adultery with her and instead keeping it in secret to protect him, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” for the entirety of her life as a reminder of her sin. Her secret comes to represent her destruction through her never-ending guilt and public scrutiny. For example, a young townswoman comments on the scarlet letter, “Ah, but…let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always be in her heart” (Hawthorne 47). By saying this, the woman is noting the fact that though Hester may try to hide the incident, the guilt of her ways will…show more content…
Additionally, the fact that Hester feels as if Rogers touch is scorching her through the letter is a glimpse into his true intentions – the fact that he seeks deliberate destruction of both her and Arthur for their wrongdoings. Finally, Hawthorne describes Roger’s destruction in the conclusion of the novel by stating, “Nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale’s death …This unhappy man had made the very principle of his life to consist in the pursuit and systematic exercise of revenge…there was no more devil’s work on earth for him to do…” (Hawthorne 244). Through this quote, the reader can assume that because Roger’s need of revenge against Reverend Dimmesdale had come to utterly consume his life until he was the epitome of evil, once Arthur had died, Roger could no longer go on living, as his only will to live was taken from him unexpectedly. Furthermore, this quote perfectly represents the theme that even well-meaning secrets and deceptions can lead to destruction, because of Roger’s choice to hide behind a fake name and lie in order to destroy those that had wronged him. This ultimately corrupted his once pure soul, turning him into the human equivalent of the devil, and later taking his

More about The Themes To Destruction In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Open Document