Honors English 11
Writing Assignment #2
October 29, 2012
Sin, Guilt, and The Scarlet Letter
Sin and guilt are themes that are not only central to The Scarlet Letter, but to the entirety of Puritan Culture. They come hand in hand, and are seen as almost necessary for moral perfection. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, nearly every character is changed or at least affected by sin and guilt, and for many of them it is in a life changing way. It is an unavoidable side effect of the times they found themselves in that is even there today, although less prevalent. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth’s lives are all affected by sin and guilt, each in different ways, all because of one central theme- the sin of Hester and Dimmesdale.
Hester is affected by sin and guilt in a somewhat decreasing way, as she learns to live with the guilt over time. At the start of the novel, Hester is seen as an outcast, forced to live isolated in the outskirts of the city in an abandoned cabin near the forest. She is judged by the other colonists in Boston, and is seen as a lesser human, who is unworthy of respect. From the beginning, she is forced to wear the scarlet “A” as a constant reminder of her sin and an outward sign of it to everyone else. She is almost separated entirely from society, as it says, “In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it,” (Hawthorne 75). Even those who said nothing still implied her banishment through their silence, and regarded her as one to be looked upon with scorn. Despite all of this, Hester quickly learned to live with it and even grew past the need for interaction with others, as shown here: “Lonely as was Hester’s situation, and without a friend on earth who dared to show himself, she, however, incurred no risk of want,” (Hawthorne 73). Even through all of her trials and tribulations, she still works past the difficulties, and over time even becomes...
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