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The Nature Of Sin Essay

1022 words - 5 pages

Most people believe that they are the good guys. Ask any terrorist, thief, or serial killer and they will all blame some other factor or person for their actions. In the age of Puritanism everyone participated in this area of irrational thought, or else they faced the fires of Hell. They had to choose between accepting their sins, projecting their sins onto another, or by fully succumbing to their sins in order to preserve their faith. This is why Hester Prynne is given the scarlet letter, this is why Arthur Dimmesdale laughs hysterically as he scourges himself in the dead of night, and this is why Roger Chillingworth becomes an evil shadow of his formal self. The way that each character chose to deal with their sins revealed their true nature.
Hester Prynne is made the very embodiment of projected sin. As soon as her fellow townspeople see that she is pregnant while her husband is away, they quickly punish her. She is imprisoned and forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for adultery, on her chest, ensuring that everyone who looks upon her knows her blasphemous mistake. Hester takes the punishment with pride, haughtily decorating the letter with gold trimmings and holding her head up high. This unexpected pride makes her the perfect person for the town to set blame upon, “Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,—at her, the child of honorable parents,—at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, —at her, who had once been innocent, —as the figure, the body, the reality of sin.” Pg 63. Normally sin is an intangible evil, but Hester’s letter makes it physical. The town projects their sin and guilt on to Hester to avoid confronting their own misdeeds. She is treated terribly by people who have done things that are far-worse than adultery, they see her as an example of what they could become if their hidden sins were to be discovered. This is exactly the reason why Hester is forced to wear the scarlet letter; it makes people feel better about their own sins by creating a physical person to project their own guilt upon. Besides, sin is at its most powerful when it is thrust out of the shadows and into the limelight. Mistress Hibbins is one of the most sinful characters in the book, yet she seems to be somewhat accepted by the community. Although she is seen as a weirdo, she keeps her sins in the shadows where they belonged, yet as soon as her secrets are revealed she is hung for witchcraft. Therein lies the power of the letter, it screams to the entire world Hester’s biggest mistake and gives those without their mark an outlet for their guilt.
Arthur Dimmesdale is the most tragic character in the book, he wants nothing more than to be happy with Hester and Pearl, but he...

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