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Reading on The Scarlet Letter
  1. Public Guilt vs. Private Guilt
  2. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay
  3. The Scarlet Letter
  4. 'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reviewed
  5. Themes in The Scarlet Letter

Public Guilt vs. Private Guilt

Decide what your thesis statement will be. What does sinning mean? Ask this question to end up with an original topic. Although the Puritans consider all sins to be equally bad, the Scarlett Letter introduces a different point of view, and its plot opens with Hester being shamed for her adultery that everybody in the town knows about.

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The novel deals with the sins of Dimmesdale and Chillingworth. He earns public respect by denying his sins. Both characters die in the end, thus showing readers that their sins deserve harsh punishment, not the act of adultery that Hester committed. The author shows this theme in the Scarlet Letter through Dimmesdale who seems to be a much better man than Chillingworth, but he lies to himself.

The story shows how dangerous it can be.

The entire community respects him because Dimmesdale is a church leader and a talented orator who helps people when they have problems. He condemns Hester for adultery while being her lover.

The Scarlet Letter. John Barry

People treat Hester as an outcast and praise Dimmesdale as an honorable man, though they took part in the same sin. His guilt and hypocrisy ruin his life. Chillingworth is a man who scares all readers because the author portrays him as the epitome of evil, and his primary act is seeking revenge. He never loved Hester. He thinks that public humiliation is a good punishment for her and decides to find her lover and torture him.

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

Chillingworth gets close to Dimmesdale as a doctor. Her sin can also be considered less serious because Hester is willing to accept her sin and deal with the consequences publicly. As for Chillingworth, his sin is the manipulation of a human being. His deathly sin is not committed because he needs to, but Chillingworth commits this sin because he wants to.

By making Dimmesdale weaker and weaker, the puritans are loosing a minister that has always been there for them.

Chillingworth is also hurting Hester and Pearl because he is preventing Dimmesdale from being with them. Although his wrongdoing starts off in the same path as Hester, his sin can be considered to be worse. Even though Dimmesdale sin is not as deadly as Chillingworth, his sin is ripping off the happiness of the people around him.

The Scarlet Letter

Altogether, the sins of all the characters are different from each other as well as varying in their importance. The rose bush is a bush of wild roses, which also appears in the first chapter. Exactly like a rose bush, Hester Prynne also can look beautiful as well as wild in her nature, and even survive against all the odds. However, as it appears in two different places, it could mean two different things. In the first, it perhaps symbolizes Hester Prynne, and later when it appears in the house of the governor, it symbolizes Pearl and her vibrant life.

However, it is fascinating to note that the same letter becomes a symbol of innocence, penance and angelic character of Hester by the end of the story.

'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reviewed

This symbol also shows how objects transform their symbolic meanings based on lifestyle, circumstances, and choices. Although red color is, mostly, associated with sex, infatuation, passion, violence, and life of sin, it is also associated with true love and purity of heart. In the novel, this color is associated with red roses which means energy, while at one place, it also shows lost passion and sincere love, as the scarlet letter and crimson color of cheeks show love and passion.

The scaffold has been used at three places in the novel. Once, it is used in the second chapter where Hester is made to stand and humiliated for her sin of adultery.

Themes in The Scarlet Letter

Here, it is a symbol of sin and crime. It again appears in the 23rd chapter where it is a symbol of freedom from long-lasting guilt and secret, as Dimmesdale confesses everything before dying. Two significant seasonal phenomena appear intermittently in the novel. They are sunlight and shadow.

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It means it is a symbol of cover.