Living in Guilt
Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is tormented by his sin, leading to his inevitable death. Hester Prynne must live with the retributions of her adultery every day of her life, Pearl being a constant reminder. Even Chillingworth disintegrates under the power of his own sin, that of revenge. It seems Hawthorne is trying to make a point in his novel; that it is impossible to escape the consequences of your actions (especially in Puritan New England)! In the beginning of this book we meet Hester Prynne, a beautiful young mother making her way from prison through a crowd of displeased Puritans. She finds herself displayed like a circus animal, amongst a silent and unforgiving crowd, on a scaffold commonly used for executions. She has a brilliantly embroidered Scarlet Letter “A” attached to her bosom, a curious punishment for the sin of adultery. The crowd, with the exception of that one young maiden, seems to think she deserved much more than a simple letter attached to her clothes. Death is the proper punishment for a scandal of this proportion! The Scarlet Letter proves to be more sinister than you might think. It repels society from her. She becomes a hermit, living out monotonous days sewing in her cottage with her equally lonely child, Pearl. Everywhere she goes, she is avoided or surrounded by curious bystanders. She becomes the subject of many preachers’ sermons; the living example of what you shouldn’t become in Puritan society. Even her tiny pearl is the physical embodiment of her dreaded letter, a daily reminder of the sin she cannot seem to escape. Though Hester is a good woman; loving, caring, God fearing and humble, she doesn’t find forgiveness for many years. The handsome Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a walking disaster. He preaches his life changing sermons with a majestic aura. Dimmesdale is the towns living, breathing, angel, bringing everyone he meets into the presence...
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