Scarlet Letter Theme Of Guilt

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The Scarlet Letter Written in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne , The Scarlet Letter reflects on the themes of guilt, shame, and the self-inflicted physical and psychological pain that the characters felt as a result of their life choice. As the story begins, Hester Prynne is put on trial for the crime of adultery. Her husband, Roger Chillingworth had sent her to America ahead of him to prepare their home. However, Chillingworth was lost at sea and presumed dead. Trying to survive on her own in this new and frightening word, Hester soon became lonely and depressed. It was her depression that led her to seek comfort from her local minister Reverend Dimmesdale. Reverend Dimmesdale comes to her rescue, not knowing that he would only be causing …show more content…
Hester soon finds out that she is with child. She gives birth to a baby girl and names her Pearl. With a newborn baby in hand, it is impossible for Hester to hide her sin/ crime of adultery from the people in the community and she is arrested and put on trial. The Puritan court decides that Hester must always wear a public representation of her secret sin and orders that she wear a scarlet A on her chest for the rest of her life. As for Dimmesdale, his inability to vocalize his sins caused him internal anguish, physical pain, and self inflicted punishment. He is unable to confesses his sins until his final sermon “Election Day”. The death of Dimmesdale represents the death of human perfection and fits into dark romanticism. From the start of the novel, Dimmesdale’s refusal to confess his affair with Hester creates in him an internal struggle. In the beginning of the Scarlet Letter, a group of somber, judgmental looking people gather around the outside of the prison door. The door is oak and has been built with iron spikes, it looks as if it was made for the most dangerous criminal, however inside lies only a young mother and her infant child. The Puritans believed that sin should be actively sought out and exposed so that it can be punished publicly; …show more content…
Dimmesdale believed that through guiding Pearl to Heaven, Hester herself would find redemption for her sins. Conversely, he believed that since he concealed his guilt that there would be no such redemption for him. As a way to earn God’s favor and his redemption, he would spend prolonged periods of time fasting and praying. Hawthorne says, that Dimmesdale’s appearance was so changed that he was “more careworn and emaciated than as we described him at the scene of Hester’s public ignominy; and whether it were his failing health, or whatever the cause might be, his large dark eyes had a world of pain in their troubled and melancholy depth”(Hawthorne 98). Dimmesdale’s cowardice forces him to retreat more and more from society because he is afraid that the world would see the truth that Pearl was his child and the love he had for Hester in his eyes. However, when he has no other choice but come to Hester’s defense, he does rise to the occasion and defends her right and need to keep her child. Tragically, Dimmesdale’s self loathing will push him to the point where he gives up on life. He simply loses his will to live. Dimmesdale decides that if, “Providence should see fit to remove him, it would be because of his own unworthiness to perform its humblest mission here on earth (Hawthorne 104).

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