Sin in The Scarlet Letter

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Sin in The Scarlet Letter

 

     Since the dawn of time people have read, studied and enjoyed books in

which the hero or heroes fall from grace. No matter who those heroes are-

the human race in The Bible,the demon prince Lestat in Anne Rice's "Vampire

Chronicles"or a certain Thane of Cawdor in "Macbeth"- sin plays a greatpart

in all of their downfalls and subsequent ressurections.And the three main

characters in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"-Dimmesdale, Chillingsworth,

and Hester Prynne- are no different.

 

 

     All three characters are flung from the normal rolesthat society has

laid upon them- minister, housewife, doctor-into new roles- sinner, whore,

and vengance crazed sadist.These new roles are not necessarily apparent to

all in town.However, even though the townspeople do not know of thesinners,

God does. And in God's eyes, whose sin was greater?That, I cannot answer.

But in this mere mortal's opinion, the sin of Chillingsworth far outdid the

sin of Dimmesdale or Hester Prynne, for Chillingsworth's sin was one of

revengeand one of secrecy. He was not driven by an anger at his ownsin, but

by the sin of others. He used deception andmanipulation to make the life of

another miserable. He wasnot flung from society's view as if he were a

dirty secretlike Hester was; he was embraced by it. However, his sin

didtake it's toll.  He was disfigured horribly and became atwisted man,

scarred by sin. He also was robbed of thepleasure of destroying Dimmesdale

which was his reason forliving. He died shortly after Dimmesdale.

 

 

     Hester Prynne, however, was the complete opposite of Chillingworth in

that her sin gave her life, not destroyed it. She took her punishment and

embraced it, using it to rebuild herself not as a pathetic sinner, but as a

pseudo-saint. At first, the town shunned her as a sinner. However,after

they saw that she was good, and her sin was of love,the same town embraced

and loved her. Her sin drew her moredeeply into the society of Boston than

she ever was before.And when her time to die came, she did so with honor.

HesterPrynne - sinner and saint.     However, Hester's sin was shared.

Whereas she was asinner on the outside and a saint on the inside,

ArthurDimmesdale is the reverse, both literally and figuratively.

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On the

outside, a town minister, inside an adulterer. Of allthe characters,

Dimmesdale is the most pitiful. A man sopenitent that he whips himself, but

so afraid that he cannotconfess his sin; a sin which takes a great toll on

him. Hiscountenance is disfigured in the shape of what we assume tobe an A

on his chest (that or a cow shaped birthmark) and hissoul is eaten by his

guilt. Arthur does later confess, and aweight is lifted from his being. And

with that weight gone hefinally dies in peace.

 

 

     Sin has always been and will always be a part of human life and

literature. And as long as there is sin, people willreact to it in

different ways; some will hide it, some willembrace it, some will rot from

it.  But no matter how the sin is handled or dealt with, it will always

leave it's mark. Forme, the mark of sin will always be symbolized as a

scarlet A on a black background.

 

 

 


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