The Different Shades of Sins
An Irish Proverb states “All Sins cast long shadows.” Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne viewed the sins as a spectrum of many colors. The novel revolves around Hester Prynne, who is convicted of adultery in colonial Salem by the Puritan society. For her punishment, she is condemned to wear the red scarlet letter "A" on her chest as a permanent sign of her sin. Exposing to sin and the temptation of its concealment in capricious degrees, Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrated the different shades of sins through the actions of several main characters, Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth. In the beginning of the book, we learn Hester Prynne committed the sin of adultery. Although meant to crush Hester’s spirit, she is proud of her sin and becomes a strong, tough minded character. While the author Hawthorne has Puritan heritage, he portrays Hester as one of the most “able” of people in Salem because she confessed her sin. While the religious and high ranking citizens of Salem continue to ridicule her for being and adulteress, “many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification” (168). The product of this sin was Hester’s daughter Pearl. Unlike the way of the Puritans, Hester creates “beauty, shining through the gorgeous robes” (87) of Pearl, and thus Pearl stands out in crowds. To Hester, her sin was marrying someone she did not love, Roger Chillingworth. In the eyes of Hester and Dimmesdale, they are not “the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!” (225) Going against the heart is the greatest sin possible to Hester and Dimmesdale and their “sin” was between two people who truly loved each other. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl and the one who committed the sin...
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