Scarlet Letter, Who Committed the Greater Sin

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The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, writes about the psychological effects of hidden sin and guilt. In this novel he writes about three characters who display hidden guilt and numerous sins. A young beautiful woman, Hester, committed the sin of adultery. From that sin, she bore a child with Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale as the Reverend of the Puritan society broke his sacred promise with the Lord and church. Many sins occurred, but the greater sin was committed by Roger Chillingworth, known as Hester’s husband, for keeping the Reverend alive and watching him suffer. Hester Prynne is known as the beautiful woman who was sent to Boston by her husband. As she waited for his arrival from Europe, she committed the sin of adultery, and after, gave birth to her child, Pearl. The Puritan society and women looked at this sin in antipathy. Her punishment was to wear the scarlet A and stand on the scaffold for several hours as embarrassment for what she has committed. Throughout the book, we realize that she is not so bad after all and starts giving back to the poor. As quoted from Nathaniel Hawthorne, “She was self-ordained a Sister of Mercy...The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her,—so much power to do, and power to sympathize,—that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification.” (144) This causes the scarlet letter to now represent “Able” and proves that Hester didn’t try to commit her sin or hurt others around her. Arthur Dimmesdale, a very religious man who is looked up to by many in the puritan society. He also committed the sin of adultery with Hester Prynne, except he didn’t suffer the same public humiliation as her. Instead he suffered in private, physically and mentally. We learn that his sin causes him to get weaker and weaker due to his guilt as he continues his life in the novel.
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