The Scarlet Letter is a fictional work that has several themes coming out. Among these themes are guilt, legalism and sin. Sin and evil are factors that are experienced in everyday life. The author of this work, Nathaniel Hawthorne, has brought out sin from the beginning to the end of his book. He shows how sin affects the different characters in the book. This includes the physical and emotional effects on the people. It also includes the effect of sin on the relationship between the different characters. Therefore, this is a theme that is extremely evident in the book.
Hester Prynne is the main character in the book. Sin and evil starts to be defined with her. She had been married to a man, who was much older than her. When she supposedly leaves him in Europe and comes to Boston, she has an affair and bears a daughter. This was the start of the sins that occurred in the book. This is because it led to both physical and emotional torture to some of the characters in the book (Gerbe 6). The man that Hester has an affair with is Dimmsdale. This was a man, who was deemed to be an extremely eloquent minister. This meant that any person had trust in him. Only a few people could have imagined that he could be involved in such an act. However, it happens, and they bear a daughter named Pearl. This caused severe harm to the daughter, Hester, as well as Chillingworth, who was the official husband of Hester.
The scarlet letter symbol, A has been extensively used as a symbol of sin. This has been witnessed in various scenarios. For example, Chillingworth saw the symbol “˜A’ forming in the sky. The old folks were interpreted as the symbol for angel. This is because an influential person has passed away. However, he thought otherwise. He saw and viewed it as a symbol of adultery. He had hidden anger and planned vengeance against Dimmsdale. This is because he knew that he had an affair with his wife. The symbol “˜A’ has also been used on Dimmsdale. In something that is not extremely clear to the audience, Chillingworth discovers an “˜A’ mark on Dimmsdale’s chest. This was a sign of the adulterous actions, in which he had been involved. This symbol has been used by the writer to show how sin is revealed and made public to the people. When Chillingworth moved in with Dimmsdale, he was supposed to take medical care of him. At that time, he only had suspicions. He suspected that his torture had a relationship with the secret that was borne by Hester. As he stays there, he notices the “˜A’ mark, when the minister is in his deep sleep. According to the writer, this confirms his suspicions. This is when he kicks off his revenge mission.
Hester wore a rag of scarlet cloth that assumed the letter “˜A’. This was done as a punishment to him for committing adultery. When the fathers in the area ask who the father of the adulterous child was, she refused to reveal the secret. This cloth was like a badge of shame. It represented a person, who had no respect for herself and the community. This is the reason why she was rejected by the whole community. They did not give her any respect for the actions that she had committed. However, this symbol came to be true, when her daughter had grown a bit older. People viewed her as a symbol of sin. Therefore, they viewed her as the letter that existed on her mother’s chest. This means that she was viewed as a sign of shame for her adulterous mother. This made them live in the outskirts of Boston. This was in a small cottage that was far from the lives of most of the other people in the community (Paulson and Eisenman 147).
All the sins that were depicted in the book had serious consequences. First, Hester was emotionally disturbed by her actions. She always felt like she had to make up for the actions that she had done. She had come to the realization that there were serious consequences for such actions. This helped her to try and make up for the actions that she had been involved in. All through the book, she is disregarded by most of the members of the community. They viewed her as a disgrace to the community. As a result of this, she chose to get involved in charity works for most of her life. This way, she could make sure that the sins she had committed could be forgiven. She always hoped for forgiveness of her sins. This shows that evil in the society does not only affect the victims. It also affects the doers of the evil deeds.
The evil that was committed by Hester and Dimmsdale did not only affect them. It also affected some other persons, who had no ideas to do with this. One such a person was Pearl. This was just an innocent daughter, who was born by an adulterous mother. She had the right to have a vigorous connection with her father. However, this could not happen. Dimmsdale only confessed the truth, when he was about to die. From time to time, she had tried to tell her father to declare the truth and accept her as his daughter. However, he had often refused to do that. In the forest, we see Pearl wiping the kiss of her father from her mother’s cheek. This is because he had refused to accept her as his own daughter. This shows that the sin committed in the beginning was a cause of hate. On one hand, Dimmsdale did not want to drop his respect and accept her as his daughter. On the other hand, this was a young girl, who had the right to fatherly love. However, this was made impossible by a sin that could have easily been avoided. This shows how long and severe consequences for evil and immorality can be.
Apart from the relationship between a father and a daughter, there was one between mother and daughter. Hester and Pearl did not have a normal relationship. They did not live like other mothers and their daughters. This is revealed in numerous ways in the book. First, Pearl was not blind to all the things that went on during her childhood. There were several instances, when people had wanted to snatch her away from her mother. If it were not for the intervention of Dimmsdale, this would have been the case. Also, there was a time, when Hester was in the forest with her daughter. However, the rays of the sun reached her daughter and failed to reach Hester. This is because she had the letter on her. When she sheds off the letter, the rays of the sun start to hit her. However, Pearl was not used to seeing her mother like this. When her mother asks her to come into her arms, she refuses to do that. This is because this was not the normal mother, to which she was used. This also shows the view that Pearl had about her mother. She always knew that her mother was adulterous. She could not help but notice the rejection and harsh treatment that she received from the society. This shows that their relationship was not a normal one. A daughter has to grow with enough respect for her mother. However, the sins that had been committed before could not allow this to happen. In the end, these two part their ways. Hester comes back to live in their cottage in Boston. As for Pearl, it was rumored that she was married in Europe. The fact was that they went separate ways. Therefore, it is clear that their relationship was affected by the past experiences. This represented the different sins and evils of the past.
Chillingworth could not also be left from the consequences of sin and evil. Although his actions were caused by the sins that were committed by Hester and Dimmsdale, he was not justified to commit any sin. When he moved in with Dimmsdale, he had impersonated himself as a traditional doctor. This was not true. He was just Hester’s husband trying to conceal his identity. However, he was trusted and believed to give rounded the clock treatment and attention to Dimmsdale. This was due to his worsening condition. However, he went there to conduct investigations and satisfy his assumptions, beliefs and suspicions. Therefore, he did not take care of the minister. With time, he was able to confirm his suspicions. He noticed that his wife had had an affair with the minister. This made him embark on a revenge mission. This was aimed at increasing torture on Dimmsdale. This was exactly what he did. And he succeeded in doing what he had set out to do. When Dimmsdale had arranged to leave with Pearl and Hester, Chillingworth also booked the same ship. A series of events preceded by this led to the death of Dimmsdale. This could not be considered as a murder. However, Chillingworth was responsible for it. After some time, he dies of the guilt of achieved vengeance and revenge.
Dimmsdale is the ideal example of physical transformation as a result of sin. He was a minister, who was expected to correct the people, who could have gone wrong. Therefore, the society looked up to him to be a role model for most of people. However, he goes ahead to have an affair with a married woman. He was oblivious of the fact that he was a minister and that it was wrong to be adulterous. This seemed to be the most severe sin, according to the punishments that were received. This is because his punishment was physical. He was always ill. Chillingworth reveals that it was a result of the sins that he had committed. Unlike Hester, Dimmsdale does not get a chance to right the wrongs that he had committed. His illnesses were always perpetual. He never seemed to get better. Before he died, he had to go through the tough and harsh reality that he was going to die. This is because he did not seem to be getting better. In the end, he had to face the shame of confession of his sins in the scaffold of the town. This was despite the fact that he was a minister, from whom people had higher expectations. He had stooped too low to be considered a minister in the town anymore.
Dimmsdale did not only suffer physical pain. He also had to undergo emotional torture. This is because he had a daughter, with whom he could not have a decent relationship. Through the life of his daughter, he had to hide his true identity as the father of Pearl. This might have shown that he valued his dignity that his own daughter. However, this was not entirely true. This is because he declared his paternity towards his end. Therefore, he always wanted to have a polite relationship with his daughter, just like any other man would. However, the sin that they had committed seemed to get in the way of that. This is because they had not considered the long term consequences of their deeds. They only considered the factors of the moment. They took advantage of the fact that Chillingworth was not around. This was due to have severe consequences that could not be borne by an elderly man of his age. In the age that he died, Dimmsdale was supposed to be enjoying a happy life. He should have been living with his wife and daughter without troubles. If he had illnesses, his death could not have been accelerated by other external factors. However, this was not the case. He died a miserable death that could not have been expected for a man of his status.
The regrets, which the different characters in the book exhibit, are evident to the end. This is not only due to the confession of Dimmsdale towards his death. It is seen to the last minute of Hester. She chooses to be in charity work for most of her life. This shows that she always felt obliged to pay back for her sins. This is because she had caused pain and ill feelings for many people. For example, she caused the revenge planed by Chillingworth on Dimmsdale. In a way, she was also responsible for the death of Dimmsdale. This is because the author states that she was young and beautiful (Hawthorne 24). Therefore, she should not have let herself get into an affair with the minister. Pearl did not also have a decent fatherly relationship. All these things were on her up to the last minute. This was the reason, why she always felt obliged to do selfless things to the society. After leaving with her daughter, she eventually comes back alone and continues with her charity work. This shows a deep regret for the deeds that she had committed.
Chillingworth also felt guilty and regretful for the death of Dimmsdale. He also does something that suggests such a regret. This is because he left all of his money to Pearl. He clearly understood that this was not his daughter. However, he chose to leave all his money to his daughter. He felt obliged to do that. This is because he felt like he had murdered the father to this little girl. All these are experiences that show the effects of the commission of sins by the different characters. The writer uses these characters to bring out the thoughts and views that he has on the commission of sins and their equivalents. It also represents a general view of the community. This is brought out by the decisions that the community makes on the sins that are committed. Generally, sin and evil are brought out in a unique manner in this book.
The essay above is not only a review of the sins that occurred in the book, but also their consequences. It is also an ideal example of what actually happens in the world today. Some of the issues may seem to be fictional and exaggerated. However, all of them have meaning and significance in the lives of people. People may commit sins and get involved in different evils in the society. However, this cannot go hidden forever. These sins also have severe consequences. This is clearly illustrated by the different consequences faced by the above discussed characters.