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The Consequences of Sin in the Scarlet Letter

Updated on April 10, 2009

Probably one of the main things the book of The Scarlet Letter is sin and the consequences of it. Nathaniel Hawthorne theaches us a lesson through his three main caracters, Reverend Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Roger Chillingworth.

First of all the story briefly goes like this;The book starts out with a scene where Hester Prynne, who is doomed to wear a big scarlet A all her life afterwards, is coming out of the prison to the public, where she is going to be disgraced, because even though her husband is thought to be dead by most people in the colonies (and probably in England too), because when he was coming to Providence too after a while Hester, his wife did, his ship as thought to be sunk. Then she meets with a mysterious man in the prison (the man is not a prisoner, but just visits her) who turns out to be Chillingworth, her husband. Then she is freed and lives quetly with her “sin borne” child, Pearl, who is a couple months old at that time, away from everyone. At the same time Chillingworth and the reverend Dimmesdale strtes to live together who turns out to be enemies of each other towards the end of the book. At the very end of the book, after seven years finally tells to everyone in the colony that Hester commited the adultery with him. Since he was really sorry what he has done, and feels guilty, he constantly abusing himself during that seven years, and so by the time he goes out there he is really sick, and when he tells the truth dies. A couple of days after this Chillingworth shriveles up, because all he lived for now is to take revenge on both Hester and Dimmesdale.

There has been many consequences that Hester had to suffer. First of all, all the newcomers to the colony and every children was taught that she, the woman with the scarlet letter on clothes were the one who commited adultery. The book says; “…Such loss of faith [faith in that she is actually not such a bad person}is ever one of the saddest results of sin. …”(p.82, 1st paragraph). It also says; “…When strangers looked curiously at the scarlet letter- and none ever failed to do so-…”(p.80, 1st paragraph). This quation shows thatnew of her reached very far, and everybody was curious to see the scarlet letter and the wearer of it.

The second person that committing the sin had a huge effect on the Reverend Dimmesdale. A lot of times he stopped eating for a long time. What the book says about it is that, “…It was his custom, too,…to feast … in order to purify the body and render it the fitter medium of celestial illumination, but rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance. …”(p.138, 2nd paragraph). He also abused himself not just by not eating, but also by actually hurting himself. “… He kept vigils, likewise, night after night, sometimes in utter darkness; sometimes with a glimmering lamp; and sometimes, viewing his own face in a looking glass, by the most powerful light which he could throw upon it. He… tortured, but could not purify himself. …”(p.138, 2nd paragraph). He did all this tutoring on himself because he felt that God did not forgive him. He probably thought this way because he had a misconception about God, and because he thought of God more like the Puritans of that time who had trouble forgiving sins, not like a merciful and forgiving God which, just before his death, he actually did admit.

The sin that Chillingworth did was that he was even more unforgiving than the common Puritans. When he came to the colony, Providence, and saw that Hester commited adultery, he wanted to take revenge on her, and as later he figured out that her partner in that sin was the reverend himself, and Dimmesdale also. In fact he wanted to do this so bad, that after a while this was all he was living for. For proof here comes a quote from chapter three, “…I shall see him [her partner] tremble. I shall feel myself shudder, suddenly and unawares. Sooner or later, he must be mine. …”(p.70, 1st paragraph). After Dimmesdale told everyone that he was the one Hester commited adultery with, since he couldn’t take the revenge which was the only thing he was living for on him any more, he shriveled up and died.

In this book the consequences for sin for the three main caracters, Dimmesdale, Hester, and Chillingworth, were very serious. In fact, they were so serious that two, Dimmesdale and Chillingwoth, of the the three died directly from it.


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      Pamella 8 years ago

      I enjoyed your review. The Scarlet Letter is among my favorite books. Keep up the good work. More literature please!