Guilt in The Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 4 (1471 words) Published: November 17, 2013
The Power of Guilt

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? If a character does something wrong but no one knows that character can both gain and lose from what they have done. This happens multiple times in The Scarlet Letter. Characters commit evil deeds, some are caught, and some are not. For those that aren't caught, they have a decision to make. To turn themselves in or to live their lives as if it never happened. For those that choose to live on as if it never happened they are faced with a tough road ahead. They have to deal with the guilt of what they've done. All the while, they must watch to see if anyone is on to them or suspects them of the crime they have committed. However they are rewarded. They get to live on as a regular member of society rather than be imprisoned or even worse, put to death. Arthur Dimmesdale is a minister, a father, a sinner and a man who feels incredible guilt. He commits adultery with Hester before the book begins. As the book begins it is revealed he is the true father of Hester's child Pearl. Dimmesdale, afraid of losing his status and being humiliated, does not confess his crime. For this this he is rewarded and greatly punished. He is rewarded by keeping his status in the community. He continues to preach to his flock, for which he gains great acclaim. He is able to see Hester and Pearl whenever he wants. He is also free to leave anytime he wants. He has his freedom and his reputation. However, he also has something he doesn't want, his conscience. How unfortunate it is a person can get away from being caught for a crime. A crime that is punishable by death. Yet, he can't enjoy it. Most people would leave town, sorry for that they've done, but ecstatic they got away to start a new life. Not Dimmesdale, not Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. He beats himself up over it. Usually that’s an analogy, but not this time. The rest of his life is a descent into madness brought on by...
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