"The Scarlet Letter" Thesis On The Theme Of Sin And Guilt.

1775 words - 7 pages

One main theme present in the work "The Scarlet Lette" is that of sin and guilt. Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to show how guilt can be a form of everlasting punishment. The book represents sin and guilt through symbolism and character development. In his novel, "The Scarlet Letter", Nathaniel Hawthorne explains how the punishment of guilt causes the most suffering among those affected.As with any piece, symbolism plays an important role in representing the main ideas of a novel. The plot in "The Scarlet Letter" revolves around three significant events that describe the development of the story. As both starting point and ending point of the novel, the scaffold scenes hold symbolic meaning.The first scaffold scene introduces the reader to the story, plot, and characters. The reader meets Hester Prynn and soon discovers the means of her sin. Hester's thoughts as she stands before the public are described at the end of the second chapter. "Could it be true? She clutched the child so fiercely to her breast, that it sent forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger, to assure herself that the infant and the shame were real. Yes! -these were her realities, -all else had vanished!" (Hawthorne, 55). At this point, Hester is still quite ashamed of her sin of adultery, and may not want to acknowledge the reality of it. As Hester is accused of her crime, the first scaffold scene represents committing and being accused of a sin.By the time the second scaffold scene approaches, seven years later, the reader should know that Hester's 'partner in crime' is the minister Arthur Dimmesdale. Thus far in the novel, Dimmesdale has kept his sin a secret from society. During the second scaffold scene, Reverend Dimmesdale ventured out in the night to the scaffold in seek of forgiveness from God. He hoped to reveal himself to the public, however "No eye could see him, save that ever-wakeful one which had seen him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge. Why, then, had he come hither?" (129) Resulting with the burden of guilt still upon his soul, his sin is not revealed which is why the second scaffold scene represents concealment of sin.Just as the book opened at the scaffold, it closes there as well. The third and final scaffold scene involves the primary characters from both the first and second scaffold scenes. All three of these characters, Hester, her child Pearl, and Dimmesdale stand together at the scaffold. This is the point in the novel where the minister finally wishes to reveal his sin. Concealing his sin for so long had caused him to deteriorate both mentally and physically, so just as Dimmesdale confessed, his life was taken from him. The third scaffold scene represents revealing and repenting sin.Some say that Nathaniel Hawthorne named the characters of his novel with symbolic meaning behind them. Each of the four main characters' names can be tied in one way or another to sin and guilt. First,...

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