The central theme in The Scarlet Letter is that manifested sin will ostracize one from society and un-confessed sin will lead to the destruction of the inner spirit. Hawthorne uses the symbol of the scarlet letter to bring out this idea. In the novel, Hester is forced to wear the scarlet letter A (the symbol of her sin) because she committed adultery with the clergyman, Dimmesdale. Because the public's knowledge of her sin, Hester is excluded physically, mentally, and socially from the normal society of the Puritan settlement. She lives on the outskirts of town in a small cottage where she makes her living as a seamstress. Though she is known to be a great sewer amongst the people, Hester is still not able to sew certain items, such as a new bride's veil. Hester also has no interaction with others; instead she is taunted, if not completely ignored, by all that pass her by. Despite the ill treatment of the society, Hester's soul is not corrupted. Instead, she flourishes and improves herself in spite of the burden of wearing the scarlet letter and she repeatedly defies the conventional Puritan thoughts and values by showing what appears to us as strength of character. Her good works, such as helping the less fortunate, strengthen her inner spirit, and eventually partially welcome her back to the society that once shunned her.
In contrast to H...
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...t to acknowledge that fact than to live your life a lie. By keeping sin secret from the world like Dimmesdale, your conscience eats at your spirit until you are no longer able to live a healthy, normal life. Hooper's demeanor and sermons scared everyone into seeing their own sins and when looking at his black veil, they saw their own faults, which petrified them for they knew they were pretending to be one of the elect, and that none of them could be perfectly sinless. The horror and the hate people felt towards both the black veil and the scarlet letter was an outward manifestation of the horror and hate they all had for their own sins. Thus it brings us back to the theme that Hawthorne makes so clear in both the Scarlet Letter and "The Minister's Black Veil," that though manifested sin will ostracize a person from society, un-confessed sin will destroy the soul.
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