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Essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Decent Essays
Sigmund Freud, creator of the Freudian psychoanalysis, once said about hypocrisy, “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.” This is essentially Freud’s loose definition of hypocrisy, a term that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.” In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, the characters’ hypocrisy represents the pervasiveness of hypocrisy in all people. Hypocrisy is evident in all of The Scarlet Letter’s main characters: Hester, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, the town of Boston, and Pearl.
One of the main characters in the novel, Hester, shows the pervasiveness of hypocrisy with her own hidden
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Hawthorne uses Hester’s hypocrisy to show us that hypocrisy can be hidden even in those who it is unexpected in, and in doing so he suggests that hypocrisy may be more pervasive than we think and can see. .
In addition to Hester, Hawthorne uses Dimmesdale, another of his main characters in to represent an aspect of hypocrisy. Specifically, Dimmesdale represents the difficulty of shaking off hypocrisy, and brings the conclusion that hypocrisy lingers because it is so difficult to fix. Dimmesdale’s hypocrisy arises from his position as a minister even after his adulterous act. Dimmesdale even admits to feeling morally unclean and question what his “polluted soul [can do] towards their purification,” (131). In spite of his feelings, Dimmesdale cannot force himself to confess his sins and come clean to the town. The fact that Dimmesdale cannot act against what he believes to be instinctively wrong, sinful, and potentially harmful to others shows us that hypocrisy difficult to change. Dimmesdale’s inability to face the consequences and change his hypocritical stance shows us that hypocrisy can be a nearly permanent fixture. It also raises a key question: how can hypocrisy not be pervasive if we can’t shake it off easily? The simple answer is that hypocrisy must be pervasive because it lingers and can’t be removed. This implies anyone who has been hypocritical, which is about everyone, is still
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