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The Symbol of Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter Essay examples

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The scarlet letter is a symbol of guilt with the power to transform not only its wearer, but everyone involved in its inaugural scandal. Pearl and the letter share a certain relationship, and at times seem to mirror each other, as they exhibit similar tendencies. As children of indignity alike, they unconsciously serve as emotional grim reapers, and together, they unwillingly carry out the supernatural mandate of punishment rationed to them through sadistic and demoniac means. Because the two chosen are but unwilling situational puppets strewn by fate, it is impossible for self proclaimed vigilantes of the paranormal to come out unscathed. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s thusly named romantic novel of 1850, the scarlet letter, its identity, and its emotionally stressing qualities are related through Pearl.
As the original sinners and the parents of scandal, Esther and Dimmesdale fall into step as the story’s Adam and Eve. Their wrongdoings affect the lives and highlight the personalities of everyone around them. From the beginning, the puritan community members are illuminated as foolish single-minded simpletons in search of divine purity, as shown in the second chapter during a townswoman gossip session outside of the jail prior to Hester’s release when one states, “…we talk of marks and brands [but]…this woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die. Truly there is [a law for it] both in Scripture and the statue-book. (Hawthorne 45).” This woman demonstrates the general lack of community empathy and the common need to relate everything to their God, in hopes of prospering and becoming better, more favored people. In such a cultic society which can never truly let go of its superstitions and forgive, as showcased in chapter fi...


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...ities which follow her throughout the novel, mirror those of the scarlet letter, with which her enchanted personality seems to relate most to. Whether it be Hester’s undying shame, Dimmesdale’s undying guilt, or Chillingsworth’s undying infernal desire and ensuing frustration every blameworthy soul has a righter of wrongs, or someone who would like to be, to make their lives miserable in the name of justice. In the end, Chillingworth is just the townspeoples’ hypocrisy put to extremes, and the so called puritans are no more righteous than his power hungry demise. When Pearl finishes her job as a supernatural chastiser, and the golden threads of the scarlet letter begin to oxidize, finally the ones who never forget the lengthy work of guilt and shame are its authors.


Works Cited
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Fine Creative Media, Inc, 2003.


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