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The Nature Of Sin In The Scarlet Letter

850 words - 4 pages

Sin is defined as a transgression of a religious or moral law especially when deliberate. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne one of the main points in the book is relating to sin and how it can affect people. Hawthorne uses several methods to convey the nature of sin through his characters and symbolism in The Scarlet Letter. The scarlet A on the chest of Hester Prynne and Hester herself represent known sin. She commits adultery and is caught. The A is her punishment as well as a reminder to her about sinning. The child of sin and Hester is named Pearl. She symbolises the product of sin and sin itself. The third member of the sinning perty is Dimsdale. He is loved and treated with respect by the towns people. No one but him knows that he too has sinned. Hawthorne uses that character to represent hidden sin and guilt. Three different aspects of sin represented by three different characters in The Scarlet Letter.

Known sin is the reason why the main character, Hester, is forced to wear an A on her clothes and that is what she symbolises. “On the breast of her gown in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread appeared the letter A.” pg 50. Throughout the whole book the Letter A relates back to Hester and sin. Even when Dimsdale is standing on the scaffold in chapter 12 he swears that he see’s an A flying in the sky. The next day the townspeople say they saw it as an angel since the governor has died. Hester Prynne has a new power when she receives the A. This power allows her to see sin in other people. Pearl and Hester take a trip to the Governors house and while Hester is looking at her reflection in the armor she see’s herself and Pearl as an A. Hester see’s the sin in herself and her child because that is part of her power. Hester lives with known sin and suffers for it through public humiliation. Dimsdale who lives with his sin staying hidden does not have such an easy time.

Dimsdale becomes very ill mid-book. At first it just explains how he grabs his chest like he is in pain but slowly it describes his condition getting worse. This is brilliant on Hawthornes part since as time goes by readers can figure out that Dimsdale is living with sin. The guilt that he constantly has to...

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