Guilt is one of the many factors that helped shape today’s society to what it is today, and the same goes for the society of the 17th century. Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense and the only cure for the feeling of being guilty is confessing to whomever you have harmed or wronged. In The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathanial Hawthorn; there is a young woman named Hester Prynne who has been accused of committing adultery, she is being showcased for the entire town to witness her in her shame. Hester’s husband, who is thought to be dead, returns to the town to discover that she has cheated on him with another man that no one but Hester knows who he is. Dimmesdale, the man Hester cheated with, is a minister and does not want to be exposed for what he has done. This scenario leads to a large amount of guilt building up in people, and it shows how the different ways of dealing with guilt will either help you or destroy you.
Hester Prynne was forced to take a walk of shame and stand on top of a scaffold in order to atone for the sin of adultery that she had committed with Dimmesdale. The crowd’s reaction to seeing all of Hester’s sins revealed caused the woman to speak poorly of Hester. “Goodwives, said a hard-featured dame of fifty, I’ll tell ye a piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women, being of mature age and church-members in good repute, should have the handling of such malefactresses as this Hester Prynne” (5). Not only was Hester looked down upon in the town but also she was forced to wear a scarlet letter on her breast. This scarlet letter was placed on her in order to show and make sure that everyone Hester came into contact with was aware of what she had done. Hester, unlike Dimmesdale, faced her guilt head on and tries to embrace the blame that has been placed on her. “In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide... [continues]
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