The Scarlet Letter: Tales of Sin and Confession

1498 WordsOct 8, 19996 Pages
The Scarlet Letter: Tales of Sin and Confession By: Zack Phillips "The happiness of the wicked passes away like a torrent!" This quote from Jean Baptiste Racin summarizes The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in one sentence. The novel's main focus is on three main characters and how the sins they commit affect their lives in the strict Puritan town of Boston around the year 1642. Hawthorne was very knowledgeable of his Puritan ancestry and shows it by incorporating some important thoughts and traditions into this story about sin and confession. Throughout the novel, the physical, social, mental and emotional changes that result from sin in the lives of the characters are never positive and the outcome of their spiritual…show more content…
As far as the townspeople know, Hester is the lone sufferer for one sin committed by two people. No one would ever guess that their minister, alone, is guilty of three major crimes: adultery, hypocrisy, and neglecting confession. His heart becomes so heavy with guilt, remorse, and sorrow that he punishes himself by fasting for days, whipping his own back. Some believe that this is what caused the scarlet "A" to mysteriously appear on his chest. The guilt that is a direct result of concealing his terrible sins is literally destroying him. Hawthorne writes, "No man, for any considerable period can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true." (196) Dimmesdale is learning this lesson the hard way. His inner-conscience longs to confess, but he has too much worldly wealth at stake. He successfully keeps his secret from the town until he realizes it has already killed him. Hawthorne had introduced Chillingworth as the victim, not the villain. After all, Hester and Dimmesdale both violated him by engaging in the act of adultery. This causes many readers to sympathize for Chillingworth until he plainly confesses that it was originally himself that sinned: "Mine was the first wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation with my decay."(66) Chillingworth knew that Hester didn't love him before they were married, but he was looking for what he
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