The Consequences of Sin in the Scarlet Letter (portrayed through Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale.

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Scarlet Letter Literary Paper

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1850, is a product of the literary struggle between Classicism and Romanticism. Classicism is based upon writing in a traditional tone that involves no emotion, while Romanticism is the idea of letting emotion flow through literary outlets, such as a novel. This struggle is plainly embodied in the character of Hester Prynne, who must contain her passionate personality to the guidelines placed before her in a strict Puritan society. Within a Puritan society, committing a sin is viewed as the worst possible thing one could do and one must be punished accordingly for it. "In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne turned back to the age of his first American ancestor for a historical background against which to display a tragic drama of guilt--revealed and concealed, real and imagined--and its effects on those touched by the guilt" (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 3).

Guilt is a strong after-effect of sin within The Scarlet Letter. The consequences and effects of sin are different to every person who commits one. The novel, The Scarlet Letter opens as the narrator states that Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale have committed adultery and that Hester has borne a child named Pearl. Hester is punished publicly for her sin of adultery by the placing of a scarlet letter on her breast and public humiliation, while Dimmesdale does not confess to the sin and is spared public scorning for it. Instead, Dimmesdale must seek inner redemption through physical beatings and praying, with little success. Hawthorne utilizes his novel to trace the less visible, long-range effects of a sin such as adultery, in the harsh setting of Puritan society through Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Hester Prynne in order to illustrate how an obsession with...