Discussed ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter contains

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Discussed Themes Throughout The Scarlet Letter
The Puritans, a religious group in New England in the early 1600’s, believe in a ‘pure’ interpretation of the Bible and a sinless society, though inevitable in every society. Many Puritans commit adultery along with many other sins. This shows the many external truths about the Puritan society as well as today’s. Many of these Puritan ethics appear throughout many literary works of today and of the past. Although written almost 150 years ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter contains concepts and insights from traditional practices of the Puritans. Hawthorne makes distinctions in order for the reader to deal with realistic interpretations of human experiences and truths, which most can readily relate. Nathaniel Hawthorne often discusses themes of sin, alienation, and love throughout his novel The Scarlet Letter.


The Scarlet Letter reveals the theme of sin. An extreme sinner through the eyes of the Puritans, Hester Prynne goes against the Puritan ways and commits the sinful act of adultery. The townspeople often talk about Hester amongst themselves in the marketplace, ‘This woman has brought us shame’;, for her sin brings them much grief (99). For this irrevocably harsh sin the town magistrates sentence Hester to wear the scarlet letter ‘A’ as a constant reminder of her sin, and for all to recognize her as an adulteress. Pearl is the incarnation of her mother’s sin. Pearl, her mother’s sole joy and at the same time a constant reminder of her sin, gives reference to Hester’s shameful badge. Pearl was not conceived out of sin, but rather brought up amidst defying associations. As a direct consequence of her sinful passions she conceives a child, Pearl. Not an evil child in the true sense of the world, but in all actuality Pearl is a reflection of her parents love and immorality. Further, Dimmesdale lacks the courage to confess his sin for he cares more for his social reputation as a man of God. It becomes apparent that ‘Some men bury their secrets’;, when Dimmesdale does not publicly announce his sin until the end of the novel (121). His self-respect, his peace, love and soul all may go, as long as his reputation remains. He suffers privately in his zealously hidden sin. Dimmesdale often places ‘his hand over his heart’; to show his sorrow and guilt (173). Dimmesdale commits the most of fatal sins as a priest who supposedly provides protection, but he conceals his sin while preaching holiness to his congregation. It avails to Dimmesdale to live a life of saintly deeds and aims, rather than come true and openly accept his shame, and not to scourge himself.

Throughout the novel Nathaniel Hawthorne often reveals the theme of alienation. The townspeople generally shun Hester and her daughter Pearl. The Scarlet Letter ‘A’ alienates Hester among society and casts a lurid glow upon her pathway. Not of ‘such a Christian nature’; Hester’s sin alienates her among the townspeople (102). She feels ‘lonely’; and yearns for love as does Pearl (92). Pearl often tells her mother the ‘sun does not love you’; only making Hester feel more alienated (168). Hester, the social outcast, finds no invitation for repentance in the law that inevitably crushes her. Hester’s isolation in Boston forces her to take up residency in a small cottage at the edge of the village, alienating her among society. Also, before her release from prison, the town magistrate force her to stand on the public scaffold where all the villagers could see her enduring public disgrace. This punishment alienates her among commoners. Pearl comprehends her position as a born outcast from the world and retaliates with the bitterest hatred. She never creates a friend, and her favorite activities include playing with flowers and trees. Anything affiliated with the forest is considered evil in the eyes of the Puritans. Society ceases to neither have any concern for neither Hester nor Pearl as they both fail to come in harmony with their surroundings and society.
The theme of love frequently occurs throughout The Scarlet Letter. Born out of her adulteress sin, Hester still loves Pearl unconditionally. Pearl, a capricious and stubborn child holds a sacred spot in Hester’s heart. Hester’s emotional attachment often leads her to argue with Governor Bellingham to let her keep Pearl. Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale are all caught in ‘ a great scandal’;, or bizarre love triangle (57). Dimmesdale and Hester both retain an undying love for one another, but Chillingworth always seems to subsist in the middle. The ‘excitement of Dimmesdale’s feelings’; towards Hester give him a sort of new energy (196). Chillingworth loves his young wife, but knows he could not possibly ever exist as the type of man to make her a befitting husband. Hester holds both Dimmesdale and Pearl so dearly her heart. Pearl also bestows a persistent love towards Dimmesdale. Despite this, Dimmesdale does not, until the end, publicly announce his love for them. Receiving only excuses from him, Pearl yearns for Dimmesdale’s love. He so profoundly asserts the importance of his reputation that he does not let Hester or Pearl inside of his life. He denies himself of a love that he so desperately needs during his mental and physical breakdown, towards the end.

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Readers can relate to the themes of sin, alienation, and love, along with many others apparent in the novel. Still important in today’s society, Hawthorne explores many ideas in The Scarlet Letter that frequently recur in other literary works. This novel, set in the days of the Puritans, reveals a lot about their regulations, concepts, and toleration of immoral and unlawful acts. Puritans have strict rules against the theater, religious music, sensuous poetry, frivolous dress, and many other things that the characters in this novel partake in. The Scarlet Letter, a romance set 200 years before Hawthorne’s time, is a historical novel about Puritan Boston. The Scarlet Letter thus becomes a discussion of historical events in which people break society’s rules and the outcomes of these events. Viewing it in this light the novel describes Hester, a woman who let her heart rule over her head and suffers the consequences.

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In for his honest and humble character, and

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In Nathaniel Hawthorns torrid tale of The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character, is confronted with a number of circumstances, both in and out of his control, that lead to his ultimate demise. Dimmsedale is a weak cowardly man.
Arthur Dimmesdale, a minister, lives his life under the watchful yet admiring eye of the townspeople of Boston and, as a result, becomes a slave to the public opinion. His sin against Hester and Pearl is that he will not acknowledge them as his wife and daughter in the daylight. He keeps his dreadful secret from all those under his care in the church for seven years for fear that he will lose their love and they will not forgive him. He is too weak to admit his sins openly and in their entirety.Instead, he allows his parishioners to lift him in their esteem by confessing, in all humility, that he is a sinner: “The minister well knew–subtle but remorseful hypocrite that he was! –The light in which his vague confession would be viewed.” They love him all the more for his honest and humble character, and this is Arthur’s intent. Even as he plans to run away with Hester four days after their meeting in the forest, he comforts himself with the knowledge that he will give his sermon on predestination on the third day, and thus will leave his community with fond memories of his final exhortation. Arthur’s flaw can be found in the fact that he chooses to value the public view above those of Hester, his love, and God, his master.

Arthur, punishing himself for his ugly secret, which his need for public affirmation will not let him reveal, gradually kills himself through guilt and masochistic practices.
In Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders; laughing bitterly at himself all the while. It was his custom to rigorously until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance. He kept vigils, likewise, night after night, and sometimes in utter darkness; sometimes with a glimmering lamp; and sometimes, viewing his own face in a looking glass, by the most powerful light which he could throw upon it. He tortured himself, but could not purify, himself.

Arthur allows his guilt and self-hatred to destroy his heart and soul, but he still refuses to confess and repent publicly his great transgression. Instead, he is often seen with his hand covering his heart, looking pained and repentant. Arthur allows himself to think the worst of himself, and does not guard his heart against the evil of Roger Chillingworth, which he senses, but chooses not to detect and eliminate.
He confesses openly that he sinned, but he doesn’t confess that he has, for all these years, been oppressed by his need for acceptance. He instead accepts Hester and Pearl, a positive though final step. Arthur recognizes that he should have put aside his desire for public worship when he says: “People of New England!–ye, that have loved me!–ye, that have deemed me holy!–behold me here, the one sinner of the world! At last!–at last!–I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood; here, with this woman, whose arm, more than the little strength where with I have crept thitherward, sustains me, at this dreadful moment, from groveling down upon my face! He cannot entirely escape his desire to have the people look well upon him. Arthur dies in the heroine’s arms, publicly and somewhat triumphantly, having gotten things off his scarred chest. His cathartic confession is not followed by a lifetime of public shame as that which Hester has endured but rather peace in heaven. It seems that Arthur has the benefit of the confession and recognition without the painful aftermath, and because his confession comes so close to his time of death, he is remembered as the sweet man he was before his death and not as shamefully as he could have been.
Arthur must have been a weak, dependent man before he ever entangled his life with Hester’s. Such weakness is not born overnight, but instead is usually drawn out after trials and tribulations like Arthur’s. Instead of overcoming his weakness, Arthur lives as a sinner, allowing Hester to be the strong and moral one for them both. Even in death, she is the supporting one, he the weak one. Even as Hawthorne describes him, Arthur is childlike and ill-suited to his environment: “Notwithstanding his high gifts and scholar-like attainments, there was an air about this young minister,–an apprehensive, a startled, a half-frightened look–as of a being who felt himself quite astray and at a loss in the pathway of human existence, and could only be at ease in some seclusion of his own.” This is hardly the epitaph of a man of strength and integrity, but rather a brief description of an endless list of insecurities and foibles.

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Arthur Dimmesdale is not a strong character, or one of any considerable growth. Surely, all readers are in agreement that his story is tragic of its own accord, but that it incites pity for him is questionable. Arthur, while being significantly flawed and quite aware of it, ends up destroyed as a man.


#3
Hawthorn shows sins of several different kinds in numerous people, as well as the consequences and remedies of their sins. Arthur Dimmesdale bares the most brutal effects of such sin, this is due to several reasons.
The most observable reason for his eventual breakdown is the fact that he keeps his sin a secret. Arthur Dimmesdales sin was the same as Hesters, except he never confessed. Dimmesdale also believes that his sin has taken the meaning out of his life. His life’s work has been dedicated to God, and now his sin has tainted it. He feels that he is a fraud and is not fit to lead the people of the town to salvation.
His secret guilt is a much heavier burden than Hesters since he must hold it all within himself. This also reveals Dimmesdale weakness. Arthur wanted desperately to admit his sin to the world, which is shown throughout the book.
In view of the fact that there was no external punishment for Arthur, he creates it within himself. He still received his penalty, an internal punishment. At one point in the story he had delusions of going to the scaffold and confessing his sin to the people. It caused him to walk feebly, and left him without any substantial strength as he felt of little worth.
This self-inflicted punishment affected his physical appearance to such a degree that others would notice it. While waiting in the woods for him, Hester observed Dimmesdale leaning on a staff, which he had cut by the wayside. He looked haggard and feeble. Pearl also notices the ministers compulsive behaviors caused by his hidden feelings, as revealed when she asked will he always keep his hand over his heart?
Dimmesdale is seen throughout the book holding his hand to his heart. It is the sign through which he could symbolize to world both his sin and suffering. It represents his scarlet letter that he forces himself to wear, whether intentionally or subconscious.
Auther Dimmesdales own punishment is so oppressive that the chance of leaving with Hester and Pearl makes him the exact opposite of what he has become. He left the woods with twice as much energy as before.
On the way to town, he barely stops himself from swearing to a fellow deacon. When an old lady approaches him he cannot remember any scriptures to tell her, and the urge to use his power of persuasion over a young maiden is so strong that he covers his face with his cloak and runs off.

Near the end of the story Dimmesdale finally receives his salvation. After his Election Day speech he ascends the scaffold and bears to the entire town the truth behind his sin. After he achieves this great mental feat he collapses and dies. This is a true irony since his death was both his final salvation, and also served as the last effect of his sin.
The internal punishment he caused himself was his eventual downfall. Dimmesdale had many hardships, and had the most brutal effects of sin bestowed upon him.

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