The Consequences Of The Guilt In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Guilt is a menacing monster that lurks in the conscience of one’s mind. It can remain in one’s conscience whether or not the person chooses to be aware of it. If one does not acknowledge their guilt, then the guilt will continue to linger and grow. Thus, when left alone too long, that monster can evolve and completely consume the person’s mind, eating them alive. One novel that most notably explains the consequences of a guilty conscience is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s novel describes the tragic tale of the benevolent adulteress Hester Prynne and the pious minister Arthur Dimmesdale. Their stories begin in a strict Puritan community in Boston, Massachusetts, where they both fall into the darkness of sin. They had committed …show more content…
To begin with, the authorities mitigated Hester’s punishment instead of sentencing her to death, which was the common penalty of adultery in the rigid religious community. In the literature, it states, “But, in their great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prynne to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory, and then and thereafter, for the remainder of her natural life, to wear a mask of shame upon her bosom” (Hawthorne 43). Hester’s punishment was expected to be death, but the authorities decided that wearing the scarlet letter would be effective in forcing her to conform to the society. The scarlet letter made Hester a stigma of the community, which eventually forced her to isolate herself away from the public because she was disdained and abhorred. One could argue that Hester suffered more than Dimmesdale because she experienced torment and humiliation from the public. However, Hester was able to endure the constant shame because she became stronger every day. According to the novel, the author narrates, “All the world had frowned on her, – for seven long years had it frowned upon this lonely woman, – and still she bore it all, nor ever once turned away her firm, sad eyes” (133). Despite the affliction Hester received from her ignominy, she was determined to continue living with her guilt and commenced a life of repentance. She …show more content…
To start, after many years away, Hester returned to the Puritan community in Boston and continued living a life of penitence with her scarlet letter. Years had passed, Hester died alone of natural causes. In the literature, the author writes, “A new grave was delved, near an old and sunken one, in that burial-ground beside which King’s Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle” (180). This implies that Hester was buried near her beloved lover. It was revealed that “On a field, sable, the letter A, gules” (180) was engraved on Hester’s and Dimmesdale tombstones. Therefore, even after they have died, Hester and Dimmesdale were still shamed for their ignominy. In addition, after revealing his sin and guilt to the community, Dimmesdale died in Hester’s arms on the pillory, but he died in vain. The witnesses perceive his death as a parable instead of him confessing to his sin. They assumed that Dimmesdale’s death in the arms of a fallen woman was meant to teach them that they were all sinners alike. According to the story, the author recounts, “Without disputing a truth so momentous, we must be allowed to consider this version of Mr. Dimmesdale’s story as only an instance of that stubborn

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