How sin cause characters to act differently in the Scarlet Letter

Essay by HoppyReb77High School, 11th gradeA, November 2002

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

Sin is very difficult thing to comprehend with many gray areas as to what a sin is and if it can be repented for. However, when one commits what they or what other people force them to believe is a grave sin the after effects of the punishment can drastically change a person's physical or mental being like in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. The three main characters, Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth, and Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, all commit grave sins. However, Hester is the only one publicly punished for hers, while Rev. Dimmesdale is punished through his own inner conflict caused by the sinful revenge being exacted on him by Chillingworth. Their sins cause them to act differently causing them to change physically, mentally or both.

Hester is discovered to have committed the sin of adultery when she is found to be pregnant. Her sentence of a few months jail time and the wearing of the Scarlet letter on her chest for life is the punishment given to her by the church and government who are one in the same.

Nevertheless, Hester has a guilty conscience for example Hawthorne states, "When strangers look curiously at the scarlet letter, ---and none failed to do so, ---they branded it afresh into Hester's soul,"(59). Despite the guilt she felt when the scarlet letter was looked upon she felt she needed to make even more penance by helping the poor. Due to the fact that she helped people many forgave Hester and, "refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said it meant able;"(111). It is also said that since Hester had sinned Pearl should be taken away, but Dimmesdale and Hester both declare and believe that the child could learn from the mistakes of her mother...