The Scarlet Letter - The Letter of a Thousand Words

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The Scarlet Letter - The Letter of a Thousand Words

 

The Scarlet Letter deals with the theme of sin. Throughout history, people have committed all types of sins, and whether they are major or minor, people have been punished. However the severity of a punishment is very difficult to agree on. Some people feel that sinners should be deeply punished no matter how little the wrongdoing was. Others feel that a person's punishment should be based upon the severity of their crime. What many people overlook is the fact that in time, we all have committed sins. That is the case with the three main characters from the Scarlet Letter. Even though they were all different on the outside, inside they all shared a certain feeling of sin and guilt. So when I think of Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth, I think heavily upon the feelings that they all shared together, which were sin and guilt.

 

This novel was brought about from one mistake that a young, beautiful woman made. Here she was sent over to Boston without her husband, and many years later still hasn't shown up. She doesn't know if he is alive or died at sea. In the meantime, she got acquainted with Reverend Dimmesdale. Between the two of them, Hester bears a child and that child is the living proof, and a constant reminder that Hester has committed a sin. So the townspeople made Hester wear the letter A on her chest and made her stand on a scaffold in front of the town to display her shame. So everywhere she went she had to carry that guilt with her. In the meantime Chillingworth shows up and demands to know whom the father of Pearl is. Hester will not tell him so he constantly batters her but Hester keeps her strength and refuses each time. Which isn't so easy because she has to face him everyday.

 

Dimmesdale is most likely the worst sinner of all. His sin was that he was Hester's partner, which was Pearls father. Since he was a coward, he didn't have the guts to admit it to the public. He didn't want to lose the public's trust and his popularity that he had from his congregation.

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So he lived a life of lies, sins, and dishonesty. When Chillingworth found out that Dimmesdale was the father, he wanted to torture Dimmesdale till he couldn't take it anymore. Because of this Dimmesdale became weaker and weaker, and the only medicine would be to tell his big secret. Whenever he tried to tell his congregation that he had sinned, they just loved him even more. They felt he was the best, and this put tremendous pressure and guilt on Dimmesdale to the point that he couldn't take it anymore.

 

Roger Chillingworth on the other hand wasn't involved like how Hester and Dimmesdale were, but the way he seeked revenge was just as bad. He battered and harassed Hester to tell him who the father of the child was. Since she wouldn't tell him, he made his whole life about getting vengeance. When he found out that Dimmesdale had a big secret he put two and two together and figured out that Dimmesdale was the father. So he tortured Dimmesdale to make his life seem horrible and unbearable to live. His acts toward Dimmesdale turned him into the black devil. He really didn't feel much guilt for anything or anyone except for the fact that he knew that Hester didn't do this alone. That she was the only one taking the blame for this ordeal.

 

The characters helped develop this theme by tormenting each other and never letting them forget about the sin they committed, which then drives them into further isolation. Hester by the end of this novel tries to set things right. She becomes a highly respected person in a Puritan society by overcoming a constant reminder of her sin. She admitted her crime and resolved it over time through her charity work. While Arthur Dimmesdale bottles up his sins and tortures himself. His failure to admit his crime slowly destroyed his life, even though he was given numerous opportunities to do so. Chillingworth's heart was filled with so much hatred that the devil practically took over his life. He tried to stop Dimmesdale at his last breath from admitting his sin. Evidently he didn't make it on time. The decision of the characters to either admit or hide the absolute truths in their lives determined the quality of their lives. The guilty in this world will always have a choice, no matter how difficult it is. They can take Hester's route that means to admit their sins and strive the rest of their lives to gain forgiveness. Or they could take Dimmesdale's route that means to repress their sins and forever live with that awful feeling at the bottom of your stomach that the guilty have.


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