Sin: Destroyer and Saver of the Soul
Universally, sin is known to devour one’s soul. This theme is actively portrayed throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. However, he also focuses on how sin can occasionally save a person, but how secret sin is destructive; secret sin being sins that are committed, but not shown. This secret sin is known only to the person who committed the sin which in many cases is more damaging. Through the characters of Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, themes of both sin and secret sin are actively portrayed. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne shows many different ways in which sin can be handled and how it can change one’s character. Through the usage of characters and symbols in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne actively portrays the theme of secret sin, and how in many cases it can eat away one’s soul; however, sin in itself also generates new character in a person that would not have been revealed before.
This theme is prominently exemplified through the character of Hester Prynne. Hester, from the beginning of the novel, holds the burden of the two most shameful symbols, the scarlet letter, and Pearl. Hawthorne shows how her guilt and sin causes her youthful beauty to diminish and her life to become isolated. She consistently wears somber grey robes throughout the novel and lives in a cottage on the outskirts of town. However, as time goes on, Hester’s sin begins to form a new characteristic about her; she becomes more caring, and tries to help people throughout her life. The narrator states, “The poor, as we have already said, whom she sought out to be the objects of her bounty, often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succour them” (Hawt...
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... for. His secret sin caused his sinister, dark, miserable life and resulted in him dying like a shriveled up weed deprived of life.
As a whole, Hawthorne weaves the theme of sin throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter, and how it can impact one’s soul. He exemplifies both the themes of how secret sin can destroy the soul, but also how in many cases sin brings a new characteristic of an individual to light. These characteristics arise as a result of the shame one may feel or hide. He exemplifies this theme through the characters of Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. Essentially, the way that sin is dealt with; if it is revealed and reconciled or hidden away, will determine the characteristics that arise from one’s sin. Reconciled sin can improve one’s self, yet secret sin brings about one’s true character or changes one’s soul indefinitely.
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