Scarlet Letter Analysis

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Kelsey Federspill
Scarlet Letter Literary Analysis
R5 12.2. 12
Over Coming Guilt
Remorse is a feeling experienced after committing an act that produces a sense of guilt. A life lesson can be learned in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, about the theme of guilt. Everyone experiences guilt when they commit a sin or human frailty but the way one handles the feelings of guilt is different. Guilt is expressed in three main ways: ignoring or hiding the sin and letting the guilt build up on the inside, blaming others for the sin and wanting revenge for the way the person feels, and embracing the sin committed and not releasing the guilt.  The different ways guilt is experienced determines the way it is punished: by others or no one at all. But punishment for the sin doesn't always affect the amount of guilt felt by one. Hawthorne uses symbolism and irony to demonstrate that guilt should not take over one’s life, rather it should be a lesson learned of embracement, forgiveness, and acceptance. In The Scarlet Letter, the character Hester Prynne is well known for the scarlet letter that she was forced to wear. Prynne embraced the punishment of the scarlet letter and used the punishment in a unique way, “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” (37). The letter ‘A’ represented the sin of adultery that Prynne had committed. The community choose this form of punishment for Prynne to make her feel guilty for the act of adultery she committed and used it as an example to the rest of the community. As Prynne egresses from prison Hawthorne describes the scene, “the scene was not without a mixture of awe, such as must always invest the spectacle of guilt and shame in a fellow-creature” (39). Prynne chooses to embrace the scarlet letter rather than let the feeling of guilt take over her life because she desired to set a good example for her...
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