Essay on The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

751 Words Dec 1st, 2016 4 Pages
“Good” and “evil” do not exist. There are noble ones who use these abstract ideals to help society stay afloat, but often times they’re only in place to assert dominance and perpetual fear over others. 19th-century author, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter analyzes a system that follows the latter. In the book, we’re introduced to Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected minister, who, in a moment of passion, fathers a child with a married woman, Hester Prynne. Committing this sin causes constant distress for the minister, despite all that good he has, and continues to do. Hawthorne’s personification of Dimmesdale illustrates the detrimental effects man-made institutions enforcing “right” and “wrong” have on people.

Hawthorne emphasizes Dimmesdale’s guilt both at his sin and hypocrisy throughout the book. At the start of the novel, we see said culpability begin to manifest itself in the Minister, when he discreetly asks Hester to expose him in front of the townspeople after her own public shaming: "I charge thee [Hester] to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer! Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, 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. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin?" That Dimmesdale mentions…

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