The Presence Of Sin In The Scarlet Letter

1676 words - 7 pages

What makes an individual human is the absence of perfection. Everyone commits sin either accidentally or intentionally, but it always has a consequence. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the sins committed by the main characters in a Puritan society are analyzed. The different ways each character psychologically deals with the effect of sin demonstrate the fluctuations of human nature. The presence of sin, and its repercussions, link Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth in complex web of evil, hypocrisy, and redemption that transforms each character throughout the story. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the novel, is affected by her sinning in several ways. Her biggest mistake was committing adultery by having and affair with Dimmesdale. The fact that he was a reverend only adds to the fire. After her town becomes aware of her sin through her pregnancy, she is immediately turned into an outcast. To Puritans, adultery is one of the worst acts against God and morality. A, "scarlet letter", so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom" (48) was placed on her to remind herself and the community of her sin. Hester did not try to escape or deny her sin hence, " Here, she said to herself, had been the scene of her guilt , and here should be the scene of her earthly punishment; and so, perchance, the torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul, and work out another than that which she had lost..."(72). She acknowledges her sin and takes full responsibility for her actions and the many consequences. She lives on a small cottage away from town, only accompanied by the fruit of her affair, Pearl. As a recluse, Hester has more than enough time to serve her punishment. Hester's daughter, Pearl, is seen as a bastard to the townspeople but as a blessing by her mother. Hester said that God, " as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was to connect her with the race and descent of mortals, and to be finally a blessed soul in heaven"(80). Pearl, in her opinion, is the best thing to come out of her sin. Unfortunately, Pearl must suffer for her mother's actions, as she's an "imp of evil, emblem and product of sin; she had no right among christened infants" (84). Pearl, like her mother, is secluded from society and at times, is attacked by some of its members. Hester notes that Pearl is an odd and capricious child, with her loud personality and unabashed demeanor. Sometimes Hester felt as if, "an evil spirit possessed the child" (87). Pearl even noticed and questioned the scarlet letter on Hester, and how she always wears it, at an early age. Though Pearl's erratic behavior worried her, Hester still loves her. Even though Hester is aware of her sin, she does not fully accept it. She, superficially, suffers the punishment (isolation), but her heart does not feel like she has wronged God. "...she begins in...

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