Adultery In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Adultery is a sin. The Puritan society of 17th century Colonial America believed that it was a sin grave enough to be punished by death. However, Hawthorne argues otherwise. He tries to convince his readers that adultery is more than a simple sin that has to be shown contempt. He argues that the adulterous relationship between Dimmesdale and Hester was a crime of passion and love, not lust and disloyalty. Therefore, it deserves the reader’s sympathy and acceptance. Hester Prynne is in love with Dimmesdale. From the start of chapter two when Hester says that she “will not speak” (64), we know that she is protecting the father of her child (who we later find out is Dimmesdale). Although there could be multiple reasons for why Hester decided…show more content…
The love that Hester feels for Dimmesdale would provide an explanation to the reader for why Hester would want to protect her fellow sinner. Why would Hester want to bear the agony of the scarlet letter for seven years? Why would carry a heavy burden such as that on her shoulder if she did not love Dimmesdale? We see further evidence of Hester’s love when she refuses to leave Boston. Hester felt “connected in a union” (75) with Arthur Dimmesdale. The mere fact that she felt her relationship with Dimmesdale to be “union” (something that a marriage is often referred to as) shows how sacred their relationship…show more content…
We learn in chapter three and four that Hester “felt no love, nor feigned any” (70) for Chillingworth. He originally planned to come to the New World after Hester but he never did, or so she thought. Hester waited for Chillingworth “some two years or less” (59) but she, along with others, thought that he was “at the bottom of the sea” (59). Thus, can the reader truly blame Hester for committing adultery? It would have been very different if Chillingworth were thought to be alive and was with Hester when this adulterous relationship happened. But because Hester thought that he was dead and because she never truly loved this man, can we hold contempt for a relationship that was based upon love between both people? NO. Here again by asking ourselves these questions we ask why shouldn’t we feel compassion and acceptance towards Hester and Dimmesdale’s adulterous relationship. They loved each other. Chillingworth was thought to be dead. If Dimmesdale has accepted it, Hester thought of it as a “union” of their love and Hawthorne wants us to believe that they truly loved each other, then why doesn’t it deserve the reader’s sympathy and acceptance. Hawthorne goes as far as to say that “This had been a sin of passion, not of principle, not even purpose (187).” If he along with Hester and Dimmesdale views this adulterous
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