Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a study of the effects of sin on the hearts and minds of the main characters, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. Sin strengthens Hester, humanizes Dimmesdale, and turns Chillingworth into a demon.
Hester Prynne’s sin was adultery. This sin was regarded very seriously by the Puritans, and was often punished by death. Hester’s punishment was to endure a public shaming on a scaffold for three hours and wear a scarlet letter "A" on her chest for the rest of her life in the town. Although Hawthorne does not pardon Hester’s sin, he considers it less serious than those of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. Hester’s sin was a sin of passion. This sin was openly acknowledged as she wore the "A" on her chest. Hester did not commit the greatest sin of the novel. She did not deliberately mean to commit her sin or mean to hurt others.
Hester’s sin is that her passions and love were of more importance to her than the Puritan moral code. This is shown when she says to Dimmesdale, "What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so! We said so to each other!" Hester fully acknowledged her guilt and displayed it with pride to the world. This was obvious by the way she displayed the scarlet letter. It was elaborately designed as if to show Hester was proud.
Hester is indeed a sinner, adultery is no light matter, even today. On the other hand, her sin has brought her not evil, but good. Her charity to the poor, her comfort to the broken-hearted, her unquestionable presence in times of trouble are all direct results of her quest for repe...
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Works Cited and Consulted
Arvin, Newton. "Critical Extracts." Major Literary Characters. New York, 1990. 12-14.
Bruckner, Sally. "The Scarlet Letter: Critical Evaluation." Masterplots. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Pasadena: Salem, 1996. 5847-5851.
Dolan, Neal. "Thematic and Structural Analysis." The Scarlet Letter: Bloom's Notes. Philadelphia: Chelsea, 1996. 12-21.
Durst Johnson, Claudia. Understanding The Scarlet Letter. Westport, Ct: Greenwood, 1995.
McFarland Pennell, Melissa. Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Westport: Greenwood, 1999.
Morey, Eileen, ed. Readings on The Scarlet Letter. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998.
Sewall, Richard B. "The Scarlet Letter: Criticism." Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 319-27.
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