Theme Of Decisions In The Scarlet Letter

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People make decisions every day that can affect someone’s life in many different ways depending on the severity of the decision. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne showcases the decisions in the form of sin in the Puritan lifestyle. The novel goes through the daily lives of New England Puritans as they struggle through the harsh punishment of sin. One of the main characters, Hester Prynne, is the first character shown to receive consequences for the sin she commits. Hester has an adulterous relationship with the minister Arthur Dimmesdale; who is idolized in the community for his holiness. The relationship leaves Hester with a child, left to fight with her former husband Roger Chillingworth and Dimmesdale hides his secret for the sake …show more content…
The punishment for Hester is harsh, but pity is taken on her and the sentence decreases. Originally the punishment is death, but is later the punishment reduces to ignominy, jail time, and she must wear a permanent representation of her sin. the scarlet letter ( 51; ch. II). After Hester spends time in jail where she gives birth to a baby girl named Pearl, she must stand on a scaffold for three hours with the child for the public shaming. Hester stands firm on the scaffold and takes on the punishment ( 61; ch.III). However, on the inside, Hester experiences heartbreak and agony from the pain of the shame of the sin ( 87; ch. V). Another form of punishment for Hester is the scarlet letter. Hester must wear a scarlet A patch on all of her clothing and it must be visible on her outfit ( 69: ch.III) . This punishment is a further form of public shaming for Hester because the bright red color catches people’s eyes and they stare at the symbol of sin on her chest ( 89, ch. V). These consequences cause Hester to be stuck in a perpetual state of misery and darkness. However, isolation from society is the most destructive punishment to Hester’s life. Hester must keep the child’s father a secret for the sake of his reputation, and because of this society isolates Hester from their daily life, due to her secrets and her sin. However, despite all of the pain and suffering Hester …show more content…
Dimmesdale decides that he must keep his sin secret from the people because he is a beloved minister of the people ( 114; ch.VII). His duties as a minister includes encouraging people to confess their sins to God and receive the necessary punishment. This makes the minister guilty of two crimes, hypocrisy, and adultery. The consequences of Dimmesdale’s punishment is not immediately visible in the novel. The main problem for Dimmesdale is the intense guilt he feels for not confessing his sin ( 121; ch. IX). The guilt causes the minister to have heart pains and declining health. The guilt drives the minister mad with misery and self-hate, along with the dismay of being a hypocrite against everything he preaches. Due to his declining health, a physician, Roger Chillingworth steps in to heal the suffering minister. However, Chillingworth turns evil when he discovers a scarlet letter on Dimmesdale’s chest and slowly kills Dimmesdale with homemade poisons ( 132; ch. X). Because Dimmesdale has overwhelming guilt and suffering greatly from the poison, he begins to seek ways to find relief. The minister receives temporary relief when he stands on the scaffold in the darkness and confesses his sin, but no one can hear him ( 150; ch. XII). Also, when he visits Hester Prynne and they can finally let go of their secrets and sin. Dimmesdale receives some of Hester’s strength after their

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