The Benefits Of Sin Revealed In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1683 words - 7 pages

The Benefits of Sin Revealed in The Scarlet Letter

 
    According to Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter, each of us is born with "original sin" we have inherited from the misdeeds of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As Eve bit hungrily into the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, starving for wisdom, little did she know that the entire human race would thereafter be tainted by her "sin." Hawthorne and many others believe that ever since, human beings have been inclined to evil, more likely to disobey than to act in a godly manner. This is a faithless, cynical view of humanity, but one perhaps justified by the actions of Hester Prynne and the Reverend Dimmesdale. Sin seems to be an inevitable factor in their lives; though they are good people, their sin boils up and nearly destroys them. Do they make a conscious choice to sin? Or does their sin simply take control, as it is bound to do in all human beings? Perhaps this leads to a greater question of fate and free will, but in the end, the one thing they can really change in their lives is the way they deal with sin, how they attempt to atone for it - and whether they view the affair they had as sinful in the first place.

 

Puritan society in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a system based on religion. The Bible and the law were intertwined and could not be separated, not even in the minds of the people. Therefore it was difficult to argue that there were any laws at all that were worth having, if they were not spelled out explicitly in the Bible. Hester had committed adultery and given birth to a bastard child, and there it was, in the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery. And so she was punished. The Puritans nodded and were satisfied, comfortable in the knowledge that this was clear-cut sin. They did not question the laws they lived by or how they defined sin, because it was the basis of their religion and thus the basis of their lives. Questioning would have thrown their world into turmoil. They liked simple, written laws. Laws of the heart were unimportant; after all, how could one live by laws that were not even verbalized or written in any way? Puritan society was so rigid, so strict, that other rules were not even considered. Hester's sin comes from her refusal to ignore that other set of rules: the rules of her soul. I read about Hester's predicament and think, "She was following her heart. How is being true to herself a sin?" But in the 17th century in Puritan America, the individual did not create rules. Society did. Granted, the structure and laws of society are needed to some extent in order to prevent chaos. But some matters are not the business of government. Hester's sin should have been private, if it had been a sin at all in her eyes. She could not escape societal laws, though, and her sin darkened in her eyes and made her ashamed.

 

It is no wonder that Hester is so confused by her sin and its implications, because her guilt is...

Find Another Essay On The Benefits of Sin Revealed in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Passion in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1371 words - 5 pages in every relationship is what side the coin will land on. Works Cited Easton, Alison. “A Critique of Puritan Society.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 114-126 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet Classics Edition. New York: New American Library, 1999. Thrailkill, Jane F. “The Doctor and the Minister.” From Studies in

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

1605 words - 6 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is, at times, a piece that seems intended to drive one beyond any hope of reasoning. Its occasionally overpowering allegorical symbolism or its seemingly eclectic mythology can certainly seem like a purist allegory designed to imbue in one the fear of eternal sin. However, when one takes the time to read beyond the simple story and to realize the true nature of Hawthorne's verbal artistry, it becomes

The Pillory in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

652 words - 3 pages description exemplifies the heinous sense of justice of the Puritans. It reflects and firmly establishes the outrage against human nature of which the Puritans are guilty. All of the ugly and immoral practices of their society are replicated in the pillory, and its very existence is a defiance of that which is good and natural. Through this defiance, justice cannot truly be achieved to the fullest extent.   Works Cited 1.  Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter. The Cornwall Press, inc., Cornwall, New York. 1948.

The Sin of Desire Comparing Nathaniel Hawthorne's two stories, "The Birthmark" and "The Scarlet Letter",

743 words - 3 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's two stories, "The Birthmark" and "The Scarlet Letter", have very similar themes and plots. The two stories were written in the 1800's when Europeans, that practised the Puritan religion, started to move to America. The two stories share similar themes of sin and desire with underlying Puritan values.Aylmer, the devoted scientist in "The Birthmark", marries a beautiful woman with a single physical flaw, a birthmark on her

Guilt as Reparation for Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

5479 words - 22 pages makes the guilt increase. Nathaniel Hawthorne is trying to display how guilt is the everlasting payment for sinful actions. The theme of guilt as reparation for sin in The Scarlet Letter is revealed through Nathaniel Hawthorne’s use of northeastern, colonial settings, various conflicts, and characters that must live with guilt for the sins they have committed. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s elaborately descriptive writing style has been

Essay on The Greater Sin in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

797 words - 3 pages The Greater Sin in The Scarlet Letter   In essence, there were three main sins committed in The Scarlet Letter, the sins of Hester, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth committed the greatest sin because he let himself be ruled by hatred and the consuming desire for vengeance.  The overpowering vengeance and hatred felt by Chillingworth caused his life to be centered on demeaning Dimmesdale and

"The Necessity of Identity" - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Discusses Hawthorne's themes of isolation versus communal sin

764 words - 3 pages . Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates their austere standards for society throughout his novel, The Scarlet Letter. In a Puritan society dominated by the necessity to conform, only those who isolate themselves from the strict expectations of the community may fully develop their individuality. Hester Prynne, despite the resentment felt for her by the society, is able to find her identity through her isolation. Though there is no punishment preventing her

A Perception of Sin: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

942 words - 4 pages Through out the course of history, those who were considered sinners were often out casted from the society. This is much the case with Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. After a public trial, Hester is considered a sinner due to her birthing of a so called “devil child”. Hester is convicted to the life long bearing of a scarlet letter on her chest. The Scarlet Letter that Hester Prynne wears symbolizes the change in

The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

894 words - 4 pages The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans constantly look down upon sinners like Hester Prynne, both literally and symbolically. The use of the three scaffold scenes throughout the course of the novel proved to be an effective method in proving this theory and showing how Puritan society differs from that of today?s. In the first scaffold scene, Hester is

Light and Darkness in the Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

757 words - 3 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is one of the most analyzed and most discussed literary works in American literature and for good reason. Hawthorne's ambiguity and his intense use of symbols have made this work incredibly complex and incredibly bothersome. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses many symbols to give insight into characters and promote his views on society. The scaffold scenes in The Scarlet Letter tell the

The Righteous Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1213 words - 5 pages The Strong and Righteous Hester of The Scarlet Letter     "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us," stated Oliver Wendell Holmes. This eventually proves to be especially true for Hester Prynne, the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne, a fair young maiden whose husband had disappeared two years prior to the opening of the novel, has an affair with

Similar Essays

Sin In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2142 words - 9 pages      Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment.  The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed             Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie.  He stands before Hester and the rest of the town and proceeds to give a moving speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to

Sin And Punishment In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1671 words - 7 pages representation of sin, honesty, and in the end redemption. Her character is extremely complex because her symbolism changes throughout the novel. Her development shows the progression of various themes. Pearl introduces themes of sin, acknowledgment of those sins, and finally acceptance of those sins. Hawthorne introduces her as merely a symbol, but then transforms her into a human of flesh and blood. Pearl’s character is one of the most important characters in because of her complex symbolism and the various functions she provides in the novel. Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.

Hawthorne's Hierarchy Of Sin In The Scarlet Letter

1402 words - 6 pages Hawthorne's Hierarchy of Sin in The Scarlet Letter        Throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne focuses on the struggle of Hester Prynne, a woman who is forced to deal with the strict Puritan punishment for the adulterous birth of her child, Pearl.  Yet, the very Puritan values that bring Hester public ignominy help to lift her to a position of respect in the community.  Although Hawthorne does not condone Hester's

Individualism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1065 words - 4 pages Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her