The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of a
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of a woman punished for adultery, a guilty- cowardly- lover and an aging, vengeful, husband. One theme played out in this story is the effect sin has on the individual. Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth echo the theme of the effect of sin on the individual.
1Hester Prynne is a perfect example of the effect of sin on the individual through her physical isolation. 2Hester separated herself from town. 3Once released from jail Hester moves to "... the outskirts of town... not in the vicinity of any other habitations..."(84). 3Hester separates herself from the rest of the town to seek shelter. 3 Once Hester settles into her abode "a mystic shadow of suspicion immediately attached itself to that spot"(85). 3Rumors immediately arose once she began living there. 2The townís people would never associate or look like they associated with Hester. 3Where ever Hester stood " a small vacant area... formed itself about her"(220). 3Not only did Hester separate herself from the community, but they had no desire to be close to her. Although Hester was a charitable woman, those in need "...insulted the hand that fed them"(87). 3The lowliest and most wretched of the public refused to acknowledge her as an equal. 2The community not only alienated Hester but she was hated as well. 3After her release from prison people believed she should have "... the brand of a hot iron..." on her forehead or worse, been hanged (59). 3The women of the town had no sympathy for Hester or her child. 3When Hester entered church she found herself being "...the text of the discourse"(88). 3The sanctuary of the church could not save her from being made an example. 2The children in the town taunt and tease her. 3As she walked to the governors house the children wanted to "fling mud" at her. 3The children did not realize the seriousness of Hester's crime, but they did understand she was different and was mocked. 3As Hester ventured into town she found herself "...pursued...at a distance with shrill cries," of the children (89). 2Also Hesterís sin causes her great humiliation. 3As people stared at the brand on Hesterís bosom a "...deeper throb of pain..." coursed through her body (89). 3She suffered a "...dreadful agony..." when the eye would rest upon her brand (89). 3People gazing onto her token caused Hester to suffer great pain and shame. 4Obviously, Hesterís sin isolated her from the social aspect of town.
1Reverand Arthur Dimmesdale shows his sin greatly through his physical changes. 2Dimmesdale's physical changes where greatly noticed through his loss of weight. 3Throughout the story Dimmesdale's figure "...grew emaciated"(119). 3The Reverend would fast and perform vigil, long into the night, to seek enlightenment causing him to waste away. 3As the story concludes he begins to look "...haggard and feeble"(179). 3Dimmesdale's guilt over his sin caused him to become sick and very weak. 2Arthur's change is also evident in the loss of color in his face. 3Dimmesdale had been seen to have a "...flush and then a paleness" at the slightest startling (119). 3The slightest startling would turn him white as a sheet. 3After the reverend gave his election sermon he had a "...deathlike hue"(234). 3The fact that all the life was drained out of this poor man was evident. 2Dimmesdale also experienced much pain. 3He was observed as having a behavior "...indicative of pain"(119). 3Arthur had suffered through a "...gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain"(144). 3Arthur's sin and guilt had caused him great pain and suffering. 2Frequently, Dimmesdale had his hand pressed to his heart. 3Many times the minister had been seen with "...his hand over his heart" (119). 3No one really knew why he did this, however Pearl believed that "...the Black Man set his mark in that place" (179). 3Arthur Dimmesdale placed his hand over his heart as if he were trying to suppress pain, or keeps something hidden. 2Finally, Reverend Dimmesdale's sin branded him. 3He had feared that the entire universe was "...gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast..."(144). 3His fears had come full circle as he "...tore away the ministerial band from before his breast", revealing his scarlet letter (238). 3Whether by his own guilt, or by
View Full Essay