The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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To “be true,” in terms of The Scarlet Letter, one must outwardly show the secret of his identity (Male 325). However, a common characteristic of all people is to hide their sins in secrecy. In The Scarlet Letter, the effects of hidden sin and revealed sin are exemplified through the lives of Hester Prynne, Pearl and Arthur Dimmesdale. Together Prynne and Dimmesdale commit an act of adultery against Chillingworth, which forces Prynne to admit her sins to the community. While Prynne’s open conviction of sin cause her to meet ignominy and scorn, it allows her to gain the forgiveness of society. Even though Pearl does not commit her own sin, she is affected by the sin of her mother. Dimmesdale keeps his sin of adultery hidden. This gives him a sense of guilt that causes inward anguish, ultimately leading to his death. Surprisingly, many characters created by different authors have similar traits to the characters created by Hawthorne. In fact, what is true for all characters is that the effects of guilt and hidden sin are worse and less honorable than the effects of public criticism and revealed sin. “What is significant in the Scarlet Letter is not that Hester is right or wrong in an absolute sense, but rather that she has integrity in her own terms, that she has fallen in love with a minister who has integrity in different terms, and that therefore their love is condemned to be mangled in the clash of their ultimately irreconcilable moralities.” (Gross 338) Hester takes
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