Theme Of Sin In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Two sinners, both alike in their faults, stand on the scaffold together, one confessing his hidden darkness, and the other reliving her worst nightmare. Hester Prynne, shunned by the community, and Arthur Dimmesdale, an admired minister, both experience a journey of guilt and shame as a result of committing adultery. With the Puritan community’s close-mindedness, this is an unthinkable act. As a result, Hester is publicly humiliated and branded by her actions with a scarlet “A.” Unlike Hester, Dimmesdale conceals his secret in the depths of his dark heart. Because he is an adored minister, the Puritan community would never accuse him of committing such a crime; therefore, the admiration of Dimmesdale adds to his unbearable amount of shame. …show more content…
Hawthorne uses sunlight to describe the treasure of enlightenment in The Scarlet Letter. Sunlight is described as contentment because of the warmth, comfort, and sense of acceptance it gives people. Hester Prynne, the local adulterer, creates a shadow of darkness around herself. The sunlight hides from her, just as she hides herself from others. Hester has no happiness to show or acquire, shown when she tells Pearl, “thou must gather thine own sunshine. I have none to give thee” (Hawthorne 94). Hester expresses to Pearl that she is unable to provide sunlight to Pear, for sunlight runs away from the A on her bosom. As sunlight hides from Hester’s sin, her self guilt has made Hester shy away from others, in hopes to minimize her embarrassment. Hester, being publicly embarrassed, has learned how to live with the darkness planted inside her; however, this does not mean that she lives a happy life. Hester definitely commits a horrible wrongdoing; however, the community’s harsh punishment may have been the effect of national sin, or America’s tendency in history to inflict unbearable guilt upon those who have committed a crime. Therefore, readers are given the decision to decide whether Hester or the community is guilty of sin (The Scarlet Letter). Dimmesdale, however, experiences a level of shame that is almost unbearable. Having to keep his confession secret, Dimmesdale never learns how to cope with the darkness inside him, yet harms himself for his terrible transgression. Like Hester, the sunshine runs from him, leaving him in the shadow of his own offenses. Dimmesdale has no happiness, yet longs for it. With nothing in the world that can make one happy, how does one survive? Sunlight also describes the inner thoughts and truths of Hester and Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale are

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