Scarlet Letter Theme Essay

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Every great story has at least one theme, a central idea that the story’s events make the reader think about deeply. These themes are like the foundation of the story, giving the reader some solid ground to stand on as the tale unfolds. While some stories may contain many themes, they all need at least one to give them a purpose and direction. Several themes appear in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, including those of consequences for sin, sympathy, and the nature of evil, and as a result, the book takes on greater meaning because it encourages readers to study and interpret those themes.

The most apparent and recurring theme in The Scarlet Letter is that sin and consequences are unavoidably connected,
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The judge is not the only person to show sympathy for Hester; her husband, despite his plot for revenge, is also merciful when he learns about her disloyalty. Instead of having Hester severely punished, he takes pity on her and gives her child medicine to help it heal (Hawthorne). This act of sympathy is one of the most touching examples in the novel because Hester’s husband chooses to pity her even though he has the legal right to punish Hester and could just let her baby die out of hatred or jealousy. The most important example of sympathy in the novel is the sympathy Hester does not receive from the townspeople who shun her because of her sin. It is this lack of

sympathy that causes Dimmesdale’s internal torment and eventual death as well as Hester’s removal from society and the poverty that follows. Both in its presence and its absence, the theme of sympathy is a crucial part of The Scarlet Letter.

Throughout Hawthorne’s novel, the idea that evil is part of human nature is investigated in order to discover what it is that causes evil and why it exists. A conversation about Hester Prynne’s sin between a townsman and a disguised Chillingworth reveals the idea that evil is part of human nature. The townsman tells Chillingworth about how Hester was sent to Boston by her husband and “left to her own misguidance,” and Chillingworth instantly knows exactly
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