Destruction Due To Personal Guilt In The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Destruction due to Personal Guilt Adultery negatively impacts the lives of all individuals involved. Hester and Dimmesdale were each equally responsible for their shameful sin of adultery. “The Scarlet Letter” reflects what can result from this sin with the individuals’ two separate scenarios. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses how Hester and Dimmesdale deal with their sin to prove that private guilt is more damaging than public shame. The public shame brought unto Hester by the townspeople was used by Hawthorne to acclimate the reader for the horrors to come. In the town square, Hester “sustained herself as best as a woman might, under the heavyweight of a thousand unrelenting eyes” (Hawthorne 54). To be able to stand this public scrutiny, Hester…show more content…
For Hester, the letter later “meant Able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength” (Hawthorne 146). To be compared to a biblical reference, especially a positive one, is a huge compliment for Hester in the Puritan time period. This view on Hester is a complete 180 degree spin from what the town previously thought of her. Sadly, Dimmesdale’s character also had to change. After giving his final sermon, “with a convulsive motion, [Dimmesdale] tore away the ministerial band from before his breast” (Hawthorne 228). No person, especially Dimmesdale, would act in this manner. All of Dimmesdale appears to fall from his high public stature meanwhile Hester rises from the depths of public scrutiny to be praised. As Hester and Dimmesdale changed throughout the story, their deaths each memorialized the legacy they had ended with. Dimmesdale ended his life with an odd spectacle as he died with great pain, withering away until his last breath. This showed Dimmesdale’s personal sunken state has he had fallen to his lowest. This is much different than Hester who continued charity work until she died from natural causes. Meanwhile, Dimmesdale had a drama-filled death, Hester died happily knowing that she was no longer looked down upon by
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