Scarlet Letter: Guilt

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Guilt is a very powerful force that can overwhelm even the strongest of men. Sometimes the guilt that one feels when no one else is aware of what he or she has done can be worse than the punishment that person might receive if he or she owned up. This happens to be the case in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this novel Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynn commit one of the worst sins possible according to puritan law when Arthur commits adultery with, the married, Hester Prynn. Their sin not only affects their own lives, but the lives of Hester’s child, Pearl, and husband Roger Chillingworth. It was discovered that Hester had been with another man when she became pregnant in the absence of her husband. She was put in jail and eventually sentenced to hours on the scaffold and a lifetime of wearing the scarlet letter to remind her of her sin. On the scaffold, Hester, feels cut off from everyone else in the community and is given time to think about her life. At first she tries to hide the scarlet letter but she soon realizes that she can hide it all she wants but the pain will always be in her heart(Hawthorne 2.6). She realizes early that hiding from her past will do nothing to help her and that she must wear the scarlet letter without the fear of what other people may think. Hester was forced to show her sin and that may have saved her from the guilt she would have felt if she were the only person who knew. Eventually, after years of service to the community and time to come to terms with her choices, the scarlet letter that Hester bears on her chest stops symbolzing Adultery and begins to stand
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