A Literary Analysis of the Hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hwathorne

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A Literary Analysis of the Hypocrisy in The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the struggles of a young woman, Hester Prynne, a women found guilty of adultery. Hester's punishment is to wear the scarlet letter “A” to inform the entire town that this woman is a sinner. Throughout the novel, the reader comes to know Hester, the sinner, Reverend Dimmesdale, the minister that Hester had an affair with; and Chillingworth, Hester’s estranged husband whose vengeful mission is to get back at Dimmesdale. The scarlet letter shows the interactions of these characters and the reaction of these characters to Hester's sin. The unacknowledged sin that Hawthorne deals with in The Scarlet Letter is hypocrisy. All three …show more content…
Hester, although she does not believe she has sinned, wears the scarlet letter and flouts her hypocrisy to the town. Over the years Hester endures the hardships that result from her decision to wear the scarlet letter. The source of her shame is her own sin of hypocrisy. If Hester was honest perhaps she would not have had to deal with the hardships the scarlet letter brought with it. Hester’s acceptance of this sin is not the only way she is a hypocrite. Another form of Hester’s hypocrisy is her agreement with Chillingworth to keep his name a secret. Even though Hester claims to love Dimmesdale, she agrees to keep Chillingworth a secret. Hester is responsible for the pain that Dimmesdale goes through because even though she knew this wicked man’s identity and purpose, she allowed him to dwell in her lovers home and torture him. Arthur Dimmesdale is another character that is punished for his hypocrisy. Dimmesdale is a minister; the people look up to him for guidance and direction. The townspeople think of him as, "a true priest, a true religionist, with the reverential sentiment largely developed, and an order of mind that impelled itself powerfully along the track of creed" (Hawthorne Ch. 9; 84). Dimmesdale, seeing himself as a sinner, holds the responsibility to reveal his sin to the public, or to at least respectfully step down from his position. Instead, Dimmesdale holds his position, hides his sin from his congregation, and constantly preaches about hypocrisy

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