Essay about Hypocrisy Revealed in The Scarlett Letter

Essay about Hypocrisy Revealed in The Scarlett Letter

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The Scarlet Letter is suffused with hypocrisy. Almost every one of the characters in the book represent an element of hypocrisy. Reverend Dimmsdale, Chillingworth and, most of all, the Puritan society, all exhibit duplicity. Reverend Dimmsdale demonstrated hypocrisy by not telling the full truth of the sins that he had committed. Chillingworth proved himself to be a hypocrite because although he was a doctor he inflicted harm upon Chillingworth rather than healing and only cared about revenge. Most of all the Puritans showed themselves to be hypocrites because they acted as if they never sinned. They judge Hester extremely harsh for her sin and yet were still willing to associate with her for the sake of vanity. Everything in The Scarlet Letter is covered with a layer of hypocrisy and evil.
Both Hester and Dimmsdale knew that the secret they had should be revealed. However, neither of them had the courage to tell the truth. Dimmsdale wanted Hester to reveal him as the father of her child. He said to her, “What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him,—yea, compel him, as it were—to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee, and the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him—who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself—the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!” Basically, Dimmsdale is telling her that by not exposing him as the adulterer, she is compelling him to be a hypocrite and she is denying him the chance to have the truth revealed. Dimmsdale portrays the ultimate hypocrisy by making this statement. If he wants the truth to be told so badly then he should reveal it him...


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...how horrible sin was and yet he couldn't bring himself to confess his sin. Chillingworth was a completely evil man. He professed to being a man of healing and learning and yet his entire goal is to extract revenge. He spends the entire book torturing Dimmsdale for his own sick form of retribution. Let's not forget the entire Puritan society. They judged and condemned Hester for committing one sin. The behaved as if they had never sinned. Yet they did sin, on a regular basis. Even though they acted as though they hated Hester, they still had no problem with buying their clothes from her for the sake of vanity. Nathanial Hawthorne clearly shows hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter through Dimmsdale, Chillingworth, and above all, the entire Puritan society.



Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Bantam Dell, A Division of Random House Inc., New York, 2003

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