Nathaniel Hawthorne 's The Scarlet Letter

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Scarlet Letter Final Essay In The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne examines the moral consequences of sin, or an offense against religious or moral law, and poses the question to his readers; can individuals be redeemed for their sins? The two central characters in the novel, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, both commit the sin of adultery. However, each character deals with their wrongdoing in opposite ways. Initially it seems that Hester Prynne’s sin is worse than that of Reverend Dimmesdale due to her sin being visible to all of society. Even though Hester’s sin causes her alienation from society, she is able to find independence while living on her own that gives her strength. On the other hand, town reverend Arthur…show more content…
The agony he suffers is apparent in chapter 17 wThe agony he endures is seen in chapter 17, “Had I one friend, or were it my worst enemy! To whom, when sickened with the praises of all other men, I could daily betake myself and be known as the vilest of all sinners, methinks my soul might keep itself alive thereby. Even thus much of truth would save me! But now, it is all falsehood! All emptiness! All death! (Hawthorne 235). He is overcome with guilt, but knows his secular position as town reverend justifies his suffering because his admittance of sin would result in the degradation of the church. The emotionally dilapidated Dimmesdale achieves redemption by selflessly sacrificing his well being in the name of the church, despite the wilting guilt he is overcome with. However some view the concealment of his sin from the rest of society as a sin within itself. In his analysis of the Scarlet Letter, Richard Brodhead opposes the notion that Dimmesdale is able to redeem himself for his sins on the grounds that his guilt only “renews his sin of concealment.” Brodhead states, “by concealing going through the forms of penitence without actually revealing his guilt Dimmesdale only succeeds in renewing his sin of concealment” (Brodhead 167). However, this is untrue because his concealment is endured for the reputation of the church as well as the greater good of society. According to puritan code, church is the head of
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