ENGLISH 11 THE SCARLET LETTER ESSAY.pdf - English 11.The...

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English 11.The Scarlet Letter Essay Julia farrell 1022028.08 The Scarlet Letter Interpretive Essay The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is set in a Puritan society of the 17th century in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the main characters, the minister Arthur Dimmesdale, commits adultery with a married woman named Hester Prynne. Hester has moved to Boston recently, and her husband, Chillingworth, has been missing for two years. When Hester becomes pregnant with a daughter, Pearl, her adultery is revealed. The Puritan townsfolk punish Hester quite severely by exposing her to public ridicule on a scaffold and by forcing her to wear a scarlet letter A on her clothes, which stands for adulteress. However, Dimmesdale is much too cowardly to admit to what he has done, and although Hester is pressured to make her partner known, she refuses. When Chillingworth does finally appear, he finds out that Dimmesdale is Pearl’s father and torments him in secret. Little Pearl suffers as a result of Hester’s sin and from many emotional disturbances. Eventually, a terminally ill Dimmesdale admits his guilt while standing on the scaffold with Hester and Pearl, and then dies at peace with God. Because of his public confession in this third scaffold scene, Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl are each freed from the two burdens that the adultery has caused and that each character carries into the scene. Dimmesdale confesses his sin in the third scaffold scene, an action which frees him from his heavy guilt and from the torments brought about by Chillingworth. While the people of the town believe that Dimmesdale is an incredibly righteous and holy man, he is continually aware of the horrible sin that he has committed and his guilt becomes more and more severe because of his hypocrisy. “It was inconceivable, the guilt with which this public veneration tortured [Dimmesdale]!” His agony becomes deeper and deeper; so much so that he frequently comes very

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