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The Scarlet Letter


In the strict Puritan community, it is made clear that sins that anyone commits should have harsh consequences. The main characters in the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne all commit sins, but only one is known about in the community. These sins all connect in one way or another. Each of these sins also has specific reasoning behind them. The main characters, such as Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingsworth, commit sins that make a great impact on their life.

Hester’s sin is that she went against the rule of marriage and commits adultery which made her face many obstacles in life. Hester was to wear an “A” “on the breast of her gown” (Hawthorne 50) as a representation of what she had done. Hester was an outsider in the town because society would “[frown] upon her sin” (Hawthorne 75). The loss of affection from Hester’s husband leads her to commit this sin. Hester admits that “[she] felt no love” (Hawthorne 68) from her husband. The only love Hester’s husband would show was by sending her “intellectual gifts” (Hawthorne 68). As a result of Hester’s sin, it made her smarter and more affectionate toward her daughter. The scarlet letter would allow Hester to “passport into regions where other women [dare] not thread” (Hawthorne 174). Pearl was a reminder of her sin, but she was also “[her] happiness” (Hawthorne 100). Hester’s sin was the result of neglect, but in the end she would gain knowledge.

Dimmesdale’s sin was hypocrisy which leads him to endure a lot of suffering. The act of Dimmesdale could have put great shame upon him since he was a minister. Dimmesdale chose to keep the secret away from the townspeople to prevent “all the dread of public exposure” (Hawthorne 134). Dimmesdale would face “bodily pain” (Hawthorne 130) because of his “heaven-defying guilt and vain repentance” (Hawthorne 130). Dimmesdale’s secret is a major factor in the suffering he went through, and later on his death.

Chillingsworth’s sin was revenge which leads him to transform to something very evil. Once Chillingsworth came to realize Dimmesdale was the other man he became a “fiend for his especial torment” (Hawthorne 150). Chillingsworth now exist “only by [a] perpetual poison of the direst revenge!” (Hawthorne 150). Chillingsworth’s call for revenge made his outer appearance look different. Hester first saw at the Governor’s hall “how much uglier” (Hawthorne 99) Chillingsworth features had become. The townspeople also saw that there was “something ugly and evil in his face” (Hawthorne 112). Chillingsworth’s idea of revenge leads him to a dead end, and results in his death.

In conclusion, the sins that the main characters Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingsworth acquire had a great impact on their life. Each character had a specific reason for their actions. Hester’s sin made her change as a person, while Dimmesdale’s sin caused him to endure suffering. Chillingsworth sin had the greatest impact because it made him transform into an evil person. Sins can result in suffering, but it can also result in knowledge.



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