AP American Literature Period 5
4 September 2015
COW #1 The Ways We Lie Lying has become an integral part of life, hiding the ugly truth from ourselves, and others. I lie. You lie. We all lie. We all tell those harmless little lies, little falsehoods that seem to do no damage, that do not hurt anything. And none of us feel the slightest bit guilty about it. But does our lack of guilt illustrate the justification of lies? When someone lies, they can harm themselves, in addition to society and others. In short, “when someone lies, someone loses”(Ericsson 121); This is apparent in works such as Stephanie Ericsson’s essay “The Ways We Lie,” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, and John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. In order to illustrate the self-degradation in lying, Ericsson recalls a time when she lended money to a “friend.” By putting up a facade, he appeared to have “all the right looks, and the right words, and offered lots of new consciousness theories” (122), but he did not. In 6 months time, Ericsson only got a hundred dollars back. Through his lies, he not only lost the trust of many and destroyed his reputation, but was also left with “a crowded graveyard of disenchanted former friends” (Ericson 122). Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale from Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter also fell victim to his own lies. Although he will not confess publicly, he is fully aware that he is the father of Olive, Hester’s daughter. By hiding this fact,
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Without an honorable reputation a person is not worthy of respect from others in their society. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, the struggle to shake off the past is an underlying theme throughout the novel. Characters in this novel go through their lives struggling with trying to cope with the guilt and shame associated with actions that lost them their honorable reputation. Particularly, Hawthorne shows the lasting effect that sin and guilt has on two of the main characters in the book: Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale.
The main characters whose lies devastate the characters in the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, are Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, and Hester. Each character has once told a lie either about their character or identity. First, Dimmesdale is well-known in the community as a minister who gives sermons. But the townspeople do not know about the affair between him and Hester. He lies because he does not want to give up his reputation as a minister. The effect of him lying is that he has a guilty conscience, thinks that he “sold himself to the devil”, and ironically, people view him as a saint. (Hawthorne 193). Next, Chillingworth is an old man who is well-known in the community as the town doctor who makes medicine and takes
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, proves to be a sinner against man, against God and most importantly against himself because he has committed adultery with Hester Prynne, resulting in an illegitimate child, Pearl. His sinning against himself, for which he ultimately paid the
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, the popular, gifted, young clergyman and in which no expected, was Hester Prynne’s secretive lover. The citizens of Boston saw him as the perfect man, who could do no wrong. Little had they known, his sin was just as bad as Hester’s. Just like Black’s quote stated, Reverend Dimmesdale, acted on his light side, and used his sins to preach his best of sermons. Hawthorne stated on page 131, ‘To the high mountain-peaks of faith and sanctity he would have climbed…”. As many can observe, the young clergyman was a tremendous minister. He preached wonderful sermons and truly showed himself to be a man of God. Dimmesdale was a talented young man with a dark side that few people knew of. “…Mr. Dimmesdale was thinking of his grave, he questioned with himself whether the grass would ever grow on it, because an accursed thing must be there” (Hawthorne 131). This shows while he was preaching tremendous sermons, his health started to deteriorate, due to his inner guilt he was holding within himself. Perhaps if his lingering sin had not expended him, he would have been able live a happier, healthier life. However, unfortunately for him, the secret he was keeping was eating at him from the inside out and his darkness was prevailing. Dimmesdale’s sin of keeping the
‘Honesty is the best policy’; ‘Always be yourself”, are common phrases many parents tell their children and as common as they may be, being honest and being true yourself contributes to individual happiness and contentness. ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a novel that dives deep into these key themes of honesty and integrity and the consequences of doing the opposite action. One of the main characters, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a minister in 17th century Puritan New England who has deteriorating health because of his lies and guilt. Dimmesdale commits adultery with a beautiful woman in the town, Hester Prynne, whose husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns from Europe later on. Pearl, who is a product of Hester and
Secrets can destroy even the most respected people. Sometimes is not the secret itself that drives people into exhaustion, but the emotional baggage that comes with it. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Dimmesdale physically deteriorates because of his guilt caused by a dishonorable sin. The Puritan society in which the story is set discourages the idea of the private self, which Hawthorne shows by creating distinctions between the characters’ private and public lives, specifically Dimmesdale’s.
Guilt is a very strong emotion, and it can take a merciless toll on a person. For most people, guilt is often a short-lived feeling because we confess why we feel guilty and get it off of our chests. However, this is hardly the case for Arthur Dimmesdale, the father of Hester Prynne’s child in the novel The Scarlet Letter. Dimmesdale does not confess that he has committed a sin with Hester, and for a brutal seven whole years, he withholds his guilt inside of him. Throughout all of that time, he reverts to self-punishment in the form of fasting, consecutive, sleepless vigils, and relentless studying of the Bible. The public viewed all of these activities as noble acts of devotion to God, and they only admired him more and more. This public
Have you ever told a lie? Why? Why do we feel the need to lie? Is it because we are afraid of what the consequences of our sins might be, or maybe it is because we feel like lying is the only way to keep those around us content and happy. Whatever the reason is, we are all guilty of lying at some point. However, it is how you justify yourself the reason of the lie was that counts. Some, lie out of cowardice, afraid that others may think of them in a detrimental way. Self-deception is another reason to lie. Self-deception causes us to think that the only reason we are sinning is for the good of others. However, what good will lying do for us and to what end will it lead us? Nathaniel Hawthorne creates the character of Arthur Dimmesdale to illustrate how a lie derived of cowardice and self-deception lead to hypocrisy and misery.
In “The Necklace,” Guy De Maupassant describes Mathilde Loisel a middle class woman who desperately wishes to be a part of the luxurious life, one night her dreams come true at a ministerial ball but at a terrible cost that put Mathilde in poverty. Similarly, in “The Ways We Lie,” Stephanie Ericsson explains that we should consider the meaning of our actions, such as deception and lies. The extent of omitting a fact is when there is risky consequences that can harm people. It is wrong when omission of facts is a lie because conflicts arise when the truth is hidden by completely turning a person's life upside. Although the omission of facts is easier than to face the truth, I claim that the omission of facts is wrong because failing to tell the truth leads to painful consequences. Additionally, I believe both Maupassant and Ericsson agree that it is wrong to omit facts as a lie when serious consequences is a result, hence Mathilde is forced to waste ten years of her life because of a lie; similarly when Ericsson describes the omission of facts is a lie when a lie gives a false impression and is purposefully meant to deceive.
French poet Jean De La Fontaine once said, “Nothing weighs on us so heavily as a secret does.” Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a tale of a woman named Hester Prynne who is involved in an affair scandal. As a result she is punished by the relentless society and is ordered to bear a scarlet “A” on her bosom for the remainder of her life which stands for adulterer. However, the mystery as to who the father is of her newborn baby, Pearl would remain a mystery for seven years. One of the town’s most renowned figures, their beloved minister Arthur Dimmesdale proves to be a true exhibit of Mr. Fontaine’s saying since he is the illicit lover of Hester and is Pearl’s
Hawthorne artfully demonstrates the difference between external and internal portrayals of shame and the consequences of both, by using the characters of Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. By examining Hester and Dimmesdale’s way of dealing with the repercussions of their indiscretion and analyzing Benjamin Kilborne’s critique Shame Conflicts and Tragedies in The Scarlet Letter, one can see if, or by what measure, if either Hester’s or Dimmesdale’s shame is worse than the other. I believe Dimmesdale’s internal battle with his shame is far worse than Hester’s outward shame because it is “unbearable,” as mentioned by Kilborne.
In The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne investigates the nature of sin and its weight on the human heart. Hester is punished for her affair with Dimmesdale and has a child named Pearl but Hester keeps his identity a secret and he continues to be a revered staple of righteousness in the puritan community. These two characters show that the struggle to keep a sin secret as well as the hypocritical community. The development of characters, setting, and plot in The Scarlet Letter are conveyed through Dimmesdale’s transformation, the development of the town as a setting, and the arrangement of the scaffold scenes to reveal how secret sin is destructive and hypocrisy in a society denies citizens justice.
“He had been driven hither by the impulse of that Remorse which dogged him everywhere, and whose own sister and closely linked companion was that Cowardice which invariably drew him back, with her tremulous gripe, just when the other impulse had hurried him to the verge of a disclosure” (101). In the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne’s secret lover, suffers from the guilt of hiding his secret but fears the consequences of his public confession. Syntax, vivid images, historical allusions, and symbol work to convey the atmosphere that reflects Dimmesdale’s guilt and agony caused by his inner conflict of whether or not he should reveal his true identity as Hester Prynne’s lover.
In his essay “On the Scarlet Letter,” D.H. Lawrence criticizes society’s perception of Hester Prynne. Hester is the protagonist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, and Lawrence regards her relationship with Arthur Dimmesdale as morally inacceptable. Lawrence also condemns those who try to condone her sinful behavior. In order to create an effective criticism of Hester Prynne’s portrayal, D. H. Lawrence uses powerful syntax, an ironic and critical tone, and insightful allusions.
Overall the audience within Ericsson’s essay is any individual willing to analyze the magnitude of the lies they’ve told whether white or absurd lies. Ideally, the variety of Ericsson’s examples of different lies aids in her benefit of trying to realize how much of an epidemic lying is in our communities, places of business, and history. Hence, providing many different variations of this underlying issue, adds emphasis to the fact that we can’t run from the “truth”. Overall, one should understand that the only way to effectively prevent or decrease lying is to not be in situations where its blindly present.