Essay on The Consequences of Sin in The Scarlet Letter

Essay on The Consequences of Sin in The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter:  The Consequences of Sin             

It can be concluded that the consequences of sin is the theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne explored this theme by four distinctive levels of sin. Although each level was equally displayed throughout the novel, the communal sin of man's inhumanity to man outranked all else. The primary characters are each guilty of one or more of the following levels of sin; the sin of vengeance, the sin of hypocrisy, and the sin of adultery.

In the beginning of the novel, it is revealed that Hester Prynne is guilty of adultery. One of the consequences for her sin is a prison term. Secondly, she had a child, a baby who was conceived from lust rather than love. Hester named this child Pearl, meaning of great value. Thirdly, Hester was condemned to wear the scarlet letter, upon her bosom, for all to recognize her as one who has met with the black man in the forest. Fourth, she was made to stand in public ignominy as the townsmen mocked her. Although the magistrates tried to make Hester Prynne reveal her accomplice, she kept his name unknown.

As one may have guessed, from the hints given throughout the novel, Arthur Dimmesdale was also guilty of adultery. However, he did not confess his sin until it was too late. Dimmesdale continued his ministry in the church, as a hypocrite, concealing his sin. Nevertheless, his guilty conscience drove him to a manic-depressive state of mind. Dimmesdale became very ill, because the scarlet letter upon Hester's bosom seemingly burned through his chest, weakening his heart. When he realized what was happening to him, he tried to expose himself through his ...


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...strates, but she was paid only a tenth of what the garments were worth. There was a tremendous difference in the town’s behavior towards Hester as compared to the way they treated Dimmesdale. The people treated Dimmesdale as a saint, even though he was guilty of hypocrisy. They also treated Chillingworth as a highly respected physician, although he was guilty of vengeance. So, when the community dwells on a person's imperfections, they too are guilty of sin, the sin of man's inhumanity to man.

One may find, after having read the novel, that it's better to confess your sin rather than conceal it, although it may not be good for your reputation in the community, it's better for your soul. Throughout the novel, the characters suffered the consequences for their sins. As a result, the theme of The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, could be the consequences of sin.

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