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Scarlet Letter Essay

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Opprobrium and Culpability

The guilt in which lives swim in consumes and drowns those who cannot manage the consequences brought by their actions. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne investigates the effects of guilt on the body and mind. It is a subtle analysis of the different decisions taken by Hester and Dimmesdale that allow us to perceive the power concealed in the remorseful soul. Their culpability is insight into the reactions of self and society towards sin and its conclusions. For the adulterous couple, it shows that it can have more power than punishment alone.

Hester at the beginning of the novel confesses publicly of her sin, and suffers through the duration of the book. Guilt, remorse, and anguish befall upon Hester who deals with the trials that come upon her in a daily basis. Through Pearl or the people, she pays for her sin. The guilt never leaves Hester, otherwise she would not have returned to a society shuns her for her sin. Hester instead turned the other cheek and aided those in need. She became known for her role as sister of charity, "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 it meant "Able"; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength" (158, ch.13). Her gilded "A" that once stood for adulterer, now embodied the word able.

Concealed guilt has corrosive effects like water on metals; all that is needed is time. Arthur Dimmesdale being the minister of the pristine Puritan society is held among the highest status by the people. He is concealing a secret that would obliterate his high status in society and any respect from the people towards him would be dead were it revealed. In the novel Dimmesdale is portrayed as a hypocrite who is always lamenting about the weight of his sin, yet likes the praise and adulation he receives from the people. He fails to enact his role as Pearl's father. Unlike Hester, Dimmesdale never suffers public humiliation and disdain. Dimmesdale inflicts upon himself a course of penance, yet even during his vigils he worries that people will see him, "But the town was all asleep. There was no peril of discovery. The minister might stand there... " (144, ch.12). Pearl continually asks the reverend if he will stand with them in public and he always refuses. His guilt is but a shield to an inevitable confession.

Guilt impregnates itself upon people like blood does on clothing. Dimmesdale and Hester deal with guilt in different ways. He preaches and stands blameless among all, and

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