The Scarlett Letter Sin and Atonement

Topics: Sin, Repentance, Thou Pages: 4 (679 words) Published: October 27, 2012
Sin and Atonement

Sin: to violate a divine law by transgression or neglect. Atone: to make up for

deficiencies. Hawthorne uses these two themes to compare and contrast two different

characters, Hester Prynne and Mr. Dimmesdale. Although both Hester and Mr.

Dimmesdale drank from the same cup of sin, only one sinner has properly atoned for

themselves. Hesters atonement is carried out daily in public, before God and the people,

while Dimmesdales “ Atonement” is carried out occasionally in the privacy of his own

Hester’s original sin is being seduced by Mr. Dimmesdale, and succumbing to

the desire of the flesh. While still in prison, Hester is being scolded by a Physician, “ I

ask not wherefore, nor how, thou hast fallen into the pit, or say, ascended to the pedestal

of infamy, on which I found thee. The reason is not far to seek. (77). Here the Physician

( Hesters Husband) is addressing the sin that Hester has committed ,he is making her

aware that it is obvious to see which sin she has fallen victim to, and that he is disgusted

by it. Adultery being Hester’s obvious sin not the only transgression Hester is morally

charged of. When Hester is questioned about the father of her child, she says, “I will not

speak!”(90). Deceit is also one of Hesters dirty habits. By not giving up the name of her

fellow-sinner, Hester is being a liar. Hester might see it as being merciful, but if it is not

the truth it is a lie.

Dimmesdale is guilty of coveting his neighbors wife, and adultery. Speaking to

Hester in the scaffold he says, “… Be not silent from and mistaken pity and tenderness

for him; for believe me…though he were to step down from beside thee from a high

place…” (70). The man Dimmesdale is speaking of is himself, he is telling Hester that

she should not feel sorry for him because he is just a guilty as she is, and by not

confessing to the people she...
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