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Unformatted text preview: Sin and Guilt in "The Scarlet Letter" Imagine wearing a mark of shame upon you and having everyone know that it is a symbol of sin. "A sin is something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong; a deliberate disobedience to the known will of [the omnipotent ] God" (www.thefreedictionary.com). In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," three characters that commit sins are Hester Prynne with her adultery, Arthur Dimmesdale with his struggle to confess his sin, and Roger Chillingworth with his contrivance of revenge against Dimmesdale. "The Scarlet Letter" allows us to understand that committing sin is not nearly as important as the guilt created from it by experiencing the consequences of sin and guilt. Hester Prynne was punished with adultery for having a child out of wedlock with Dimmesdale. Committing adultery was considered incongruous in the Puritan times. This sin was often punished by death, but Hester did not receive an inclement punishment because her husband, Roger Chillingworth, left her and so she assumed that he was dead. As a result of Hester's punishment, she was induced to wear the scarlet letter 'A' on her bosom and had to endure public shame on the scaffold for three hours every day with Pearl as a reminder of her sin. "The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachersstern and wild onesand they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss" (Hawthorne, 196). This statement shows that Hester learned from her sin, but it also made her stronger as a woman. Hester decided to endure her earthly punishment although running away from her problems would have been an easier...
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