The Scarlett Letter

This essay has a total of 962 words and 4 pages.

The Scarlett Letter



In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hester Prynne wore a red letter
“A” on her breast. The symbol stood for adultery, a sin which she had been convicted of.
This public humiliation of having to wear the bright crimson “A” was her punishment for
becoming pregnant without being married. Despite the efforts of the church, she would not
however reveal the name of the second party involved in the affair. Ironically, the father
of the child happened to be the young town minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. He was a man of
the cloth, a pillar of the community, and greatly admired by all. If his act of adultery
was exposed, it would have a major impact on the whole town, so Hester chose to remain
silent.

Although Dimmesdale went without public punishment, the agony of guilt took toll on his
conscience, and he became very ill. He soon invited his physician, Roger Chillingsworth,
to live with him and care for his weakening condition. The young minister was so torn
inside, that he finally exposed himself to his physician, who happened to be Hester
Prynne’s long lost husband. Chillingsworth reappears in Hester’s life only to find her
with a child that wasn’t his. He was determined to find the child’s father, and had long
suspected Dimmesdale. His plan of recruiting Dimmesdale’s trust soon paid off when he
revealed himself as the father of Hester’s child.

As the time passed, Dimmesdale grew weaker and with each passing day, as he sunk further
and further into his sorrows and guilt. Even though he was very young, and in excellent
health when the novel began, in just a few short years he became bedridden and eventually
was so overcome with guilt, he parished. His few moments of pleasure led him to a
miserable and lengthy death.

I believe that the point of Hawthorne writing about this eighteenth century drama was to
reveal to the rest of the world of the importance of religion and the impact of the church
on the people who lived in the early colonies. I also believe that he knew that adultery
would be a prominent and controversial issue in the years to come. I think that he was
trying to show his readers just how powerful the church was then, and how much authority
rested in the hands of the trusted church authorities. You often times have heard stories
about individuals being punished by the early church and how powerful he church was, but
Hawthorne’s writing brought about a realistic view to history. Hawthorne knew upon writing
the novel that adultery had been an issue in the past, and would be in the future. How the
moral issue would be handled legally, and how the offenders would be punished would change
with the times. I think this book is an excellent source of historical knowledge that took
a more social approach to the time it was written, and therefore was more interesting to
his readers. I found this socialistic approach very appealing, and would recommend reading
this novel.

Even though the style and technique of writing were somewhat out dated, the message that
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