Sin, Guilt, And Hypocrisy In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Improved Essays
The Scarlet Letter “Guilt is the most painful companion of death,” said the Coco Channel. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s essay, The Scarlet Letter, this is but one of the major themes he explores in a Puritan society. For throughout his story, we see the major theme of a Puritan society, and how this society meshes with the idea of sin, guilt, and hypocrisy. Hawthorne gives us his representation on the ideas of a Puritan society by associating a number of themes within his story, making The Scarlet Letter. The reader is bombarded with these themes as they read, giving insight to Hawthorne’s opinions and beliefs. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, the author attempts to give insight of a Puritan society to the reader by combining the themes of sin, guilt, and hypocrisy. Throughout the entirety of The Scarlet Letter, the reader …show more content…
In addition, hypocrisy is also one of the most common themes through a Puritan society in general (Goldman). All of the townspeople throughout The Scarlet Letter scold Hester for actions, however this is ridiculously hypocritical due to the fact that they are all sinners as well. Ignoring the fact that they all sin themselves, they still continue to harrass Hester due to the “A” upon her bosom. Many believe that this is the biggest idea that Hawthorne was trying to get across to the readers, that a Puritan society is highly hypocritical. “Else you would surely have heard of Mistress Hester Prynne, and her evil doings,” a townsperson speaking to Chillingsworth (Hawthorne 59). Here, this idea of the townspeople only shaming Hester for being sinful is proven true. Hawthorne exaggerates this throughout the story to explain that hypocrisy is by far the biggest downfall of a Puritan society. However, it was the three themes together that truly brought out Hawthorne’s viewpoints on this type of

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    The tone exhibits a type of serious feel throughout the story, which has an impact on the ways that Hawthorne describes the different symbolisms. Another way the Scarlet letter can be interpreted is through the different analysis of the characters throughout the story. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism and irony to show how the main characters illustrate the themes of sin, revenge, and light and dark imagery.…

    • 1753 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The author uses many literary features to explain the two themes, but one key used in particular abundance is symbolism. Hawthorne’s story is seen as possibly a, ““sweet moral blossom” or The Scarlet Letter is this good grows out of evil.” (Austin 2). The scarlet letter that is used throughout the story is a symbol of multiple ideas. To the townspeople, the symbol is one of adultery, showing what Hester did to deserve her practical banishment from the town. To the readers, the scarlet letter is a symbol of the sins of society, and that Hester is a scapegoat for the sins of all of the people that lived in the town.…

    • 1748 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The thing that I think hurt hester the most was that the town’s people didn’t accept pearl. They despised her because she was the actual sin that was created. In chapter 3 of the book she is forced to revesl the same of the man who impregnated her but she promised she will never say the name. Throughout the book Hester’s sin was not all that bad compared to those of…

    • 496 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    They are clearly an unstable society with no real morals and Hawthorne hated this about them. So, he wrote the Scarlet Letter and filled it with irony to specifically criticize the puritan ideals. The puritans believed that Dimmesdale was their holy pastor, yet he was ironically one of the biggest sinners in their colony. They also believed that sin should be publically shamed, but ironically only in Hester because they are all sinners secretly 1124124at heart. This is the world where everybody is fake, everybody wears a mask.…

    • 1006 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    While Hester could openly admit to the sin she has committed and deal with her punishment, Dimmesdale had to put on a face and uphold his religious position in society. Out of all the characters in the novel dealing with sin had the greatest toll on Dimmesdale, causing him to go insane and physically ill. Because of this the Hawthorne portrays Dimmesdale as one of the most conflicted characters in the book. Dimmesdale cowardice and selfishness certainly influence the reader’s perspective on him, especially when he could come forth about his sin in other situations. “Believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life." (65) In this scene, Dimmesdale has an opportunity to finally admit to his sin, but instead he encourages Hester to do the admitting for him.…

    • 1061 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    With Chillingworth, Hawthorne depicts him as an evil, wicked, malignant being which shows the audience how negative the Puritan society can be and shows how much revenge/sin can reshape a man’s life. Finally with Pearl; Hawthorne depicts her as an innocent, dramatic, neutral character who develops over the book in order to represent the concept of growth and transformation with people as a whole. You are trapped in an overwhelming unpoppable bubble surrounded by others who point, poke and mock you for past mistakes. In The Scarlet Letter everyone is viewed by the spiteful acts they commit and I Hawthorne intended to do this because it connects to the real world. We live in judgmental filled world, with men and women who love to make fun of others who seem to not be like themselves.…

    • 1146 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his enthralling novels that revolve around the Puritan religion, such as The Scarlet Letter, which reveal the truth behind the Puritan ideology. Hawthorne takes readers back to the past to a Puritan society, where he uses key themes such as original sin and repression to portray the Puritan society. This allows readers to understand the Puritan religion, and the true evilness and different dimensions he saw behind it through the characters he created. Hawthorne’s characters expose his opinion of the religion, which allowed him to reveal the iniquity he saw in it. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses religious themes to illustrate the cruelty of the Puritan society, by recollecting his ancestors ' experiences, depicting Hester’s banishment, and by the diction he uses throughout the novel in order to reveal his negative opinion about the corruption in Puritan ideology.…

    • 1794 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Arjun Srivatsa Chad Hayden 12 October 2015 The Scarlet Letter Essay (2015 FRQ 3) The Scarlet Letter is a novel centered on contrasts. Contrasts between outward reputation and inner guilt, puritanical law and true sin, and intentions and actions, create a dynamic of hypocrisy, a hypocrisy that infects and slowly debilitates all those involved. Specifically, acts of cruelty are used as vehicles through which Hawthorne delivers his indictment of duplicity and hypocrisy. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses Chillingworth’s acts of cruelty towards Dimmesdale to reveal the moral decay of Chillingworth and the cowardice of a guilt-ridden Reverend Dimmesdale; all in all, Hawthorne’s usage of cruelty serves to demonstrate the deleterious effects…

    • 826 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Scarlet Letter Secret Sin

    • 1097 Words
    • 5 Pages

    This redemption is seen in how Hester changes in the midst of her sin while everyone else in the story remains stagnant despite their sins. As punishment for her adultery, Hester is publicly shamed at the scaffolds and henceforth denounced in every aspect of her life by her fellow Puritans. Despite this oppression, Hester grows as a Puritan citizen and even begins to gain a degree of respect by the other citizens. “They said it meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (Hawthorne, 539). Sadly, no one else in the story reaps the benefits of the redemption of sin, most of them becoming worse as through the duration of the story.…

    • 1097 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter using a descriptive, narrative style. Hawthorne chose this style to intricately explain a difficult topic: Adultery. The descriptiveness of the story is needed to see all the details of Hester’s sin and what her life is like afterwards. By describing the Scarlet Letter as being bright and bold across Hester’s chest it shows you how ashamed…

    • 866 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays