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Themes Of Scarlet Letter

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In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne revels the themes of sin, punishment and identity. These are only a few of the many ideals that are found within this novel. By layering so many themes Hawthorne has proven himself to be a complex author.

All three characters are flung from the normal roles that society has laid upon them- minister, housewife, doctor-into new roles- sinner, whore, and vengeance crazed sadist. These new roles are not necessarily apparent to all in town. However, even though the townspeople do not know of the sinners, God does. And in God's eyes, whose sin was greater? That, I cannot answer. But in this mere mortal's opinion, the sin of Chillingsworth far outdid the sin of Dimmesdale or Hester Prynne, for Chillingsworth's sin was one of revenge and one of secrecy. He was not driven by anger at his own sin, but

by the sin of others. He used deception and manipulation to make the life of another miserable. He was not flung from society's view as if he were a dirty secretlike Hester was; he was embraced by it. However, his sin did take its toll. He was disfigured horribly and became twisted man, scarred by sin. He also was robbed of the pleasure of destroying Dimmesdale which was his reason forgiving. He died shortly after Dimmesdale.

Hester Prynne, however, was the complete opposite of Chillingworth in that her sin gave her life, not destroyed it. She took her punishment and embraced it, using it to rebuild herself not as a pathetic sinner, but as a pseudo-saint. At first, the town shunned her as a sinner. However, after they saw that she was good, and her sin was of love, the same town embraced and loved her. Her sin drew her more deeply into the society of Boston than she ever was before. And when her time to die came, she did so with honor. Hester Prynne - sinner and saint. However, Hester's sin was shared. Whereas she was a sinner on the outside and a saint on the inside, Arthur Dimmesdale is the reverse, both literally and figuratively. On the outside, a town minister, inside an adulterer. Of all the characters, Dimmesdale is the most pitiful. A man so penitent that he whips himself, but so afraid that he cannot confess his sin; a sin that takes a great toll on him. His countenance is disfigured in the shape of what we assume to be an A on his chest (that or a cow shaped birthmark) and his soul is eaten by his guilt. Arthur does later confess, and a weight is lifted from his being. And with that weight gone he finally dies in peace.

Sin has always been and will always be a part of human life and literature. And as long as there is sin, people will react to it in different ways some will hide it, some will embrace it, some will rot from it. But no matter how the sin is handled or dealt with, it will always leave its mark. Former, the mark of sin will always be symbolized as a scarlet A on a black background.

A reoccurring theme found frequently throughout the book is punishment. Whether you put yourself through it or it's one of society's measures, it's found in every character at one point or another. The way that people were punished dealt a lot with the church. Townspeople and public leaders were so obsessed with gossip and finding out who was a wrongdoer because they thought the whole town would've been punished for one person's sin. Since they wanted to avoid famine, natural disasters, or eternal damnation, the idea of having an embarrassing or painful consequence was very much welcomed.

Puritans punished someone for the simplest of crimes, such as cursing at an animal would send you to the whipping stocks for two nights. Reading that, you can imagine what they did to an adulteress. Hester was let off easy, compared to others. Adultery could've sentenced her to death in another colony. A night in jail, en embroidered letter, and years of mockery was all Hester needed. She embroidered the letter herself, and it ended up being a beautifully intricate piece. That was Heater making a mockery of Puritan beliefs. The first year or two townspeople made Hester's life hell. They stopped her on streets to get her sermons. Hester had to play along and it was against the rules to fight back. Finally they relented and let her be free. The A stood for able and she was free



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