Sin In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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How can a gift from God be wrapped in sin? The distinction between good and evil was a prevalent topic in the early 19th century. Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, was fostered in an era in America in which transcendentalism challenged traditional Puritan and Calvinist views. He was raised in a strict Puritan family in Salem, Massachusetts, where people were burned, hanged, and drowned for being suspected of sin. He resented this way of life, and he moved away to follow the transcendent movement with Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Nathaniel Hawthorne - Biography) This discipline looked for the good in people, while Puritans believe all people are born in sin. Hawthorne was familiar with both beliefs, which allowed him to write about …show more content…

When describing Pearl, Hawthorne says that Pearl was the result of Hester’s passionate state, and that this passion was transmitted to Pearl during birth.(Hawthorne, 54) This explains Pearl’s behavior and her characterization as a wild child. Pearl was also born from a relationship of true love. It is evident throughout the story that Hester would rather live her life with Dimmesdale, rather than Chillingsworth. The offspring of pure passion and an efficacious relationship overshadows the sin involved. To validate this, Hester said: “God gave me this child! He gave her in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness!— she is my torture nonetheless! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too!”, when the Governor attempted to remove Pearl from her custody. (Hawthorne, 75) This shows Hester’s devotion to the child, as well as it illustrates the good and evil within Pearl. To Hester, Pearl was the only good in the world. Pearl was the rosebush in the graveyard. Yet, she was Hester’s source of torture, and was an outcast to the rest of the town, being described as an “imp of evil”. (Hawthorne, 54) Was Pearl mainly a source of happiness or the origin of

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