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The Effect Of Guilt Essay

703 words - 3 pages

Lights, camera, guilt! In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals how guilt can either destroy or improve a human being. By using revitive writing, he illustrates that no matter what position an individual holds, everyone has to fight against this emotion. Hawthorne uses Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale to show how guilt can be handled in the right or wrong way. While Dimmesdale allows guilt to consume himself, it makes Hester into a strong-willed woman by the end of the novel.
In the case of Hester, a colonist, guilt transforms her into an angel to society. However, in the beginning, she commits the crime of adultery: Hester has her daughter, Pearl, without a husband. Sin alert! Not on the Puritans’ watch! Hester is then forced to wear a scarlet letter A to show her guilt, and all of the colonists know about her guilty act. Even though Hester is ostracized by the community, she is able to use that as an advantage. Hester is able to knit in peace, and her needlework provides for herself and Pearl. “She possessed an art that sufficed, even in a land that afforded comparatively little scope for its exercise, to supply food for her thriving infant and herself”(75). Hester’s needlework then transforms the meaning of the letter A changes to Able in chapter thirteen. “The Letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her, -so much power to do, and power to sympathize,- that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it mean Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (146). This part of the books shows that Hester has moved on from her guilt, and that she wants to continue moving forward. By the end of the novel, Hester’s known as an angel because she uses her experience to counsel women with sinful temptations. “...demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy! Hester comforted and consoled them as best she might” (234).
Unlike Hester, Arthur...

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