The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay by amberb617High School, 11th gradeB, January 2008

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Do sins help a person rather than beseech them? Hypothetically speaking, if a person were to be literally flawless it would be illogical to label them as complete for they have not encountered hardships. Lack of adversity often renders a person helpless if and when a challenge seldom presents itself in the real world. From bad comes good and from experience comes a sense of wholesomeness that is acquired by encountering obstacles during your lifetime. Nathaniel Hawthorne makes many references to this, mainly in the sense that his main characters feel as if they have committed an unforgivable sin but from that they gain knowledge and use it to look at the world and analyze situations in an abstract sense.

Hester Prynne, a social outcast due to her illegitimate child, refuses to reveal who her “partner-in-crime” was. Her sinful ways inadvertently turned her into the town’s scapegoat – they often spread nasty rumors about her, in turn causing Hester to become more closely attached to her daughter.

If it weren’t for the harsh ways of the villagers, Hester would not have been able to come out strong. Her optimistic personality, on many occasions, bore through the negative actions that were being taken against her. She somehow managed to endure years of cruel punishment and came out as a well-respected woman. In many ways she helped Dimmesdale come to terms. Instead of letting him live a life of misery, she managed to persuade him to publicly confess the sin he had committed many years ago.

Dimmesdale, on the other hand, had to resort to self-injury to deal with his internal conflicts. Others, such as Chillingworth, knew about his dark secrets but instead of revealing them played games with the feeble minister until he figured it was best to disclose his...