What Does Guilt Symbolize In The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne uses a multitude of imagery and symbolism to serve as metaphors for different themes in his novel The Scarlet Letter. The theme sin versus guilt, appears often throughout the novel. It is often accompanied by the symbol of the scarlet letter, serving as a constant reminder of the guilt each of the main characters carry, as a result of the sins they have committed. Hester Prynne, Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale each carry the burden of living a tainted life, being that they have all committed a sin. Hester and Dimmesdale both committed the ultimate sin of adultery. While Chillingworth has committed multiple sins as he thrives off of seeking revenge at both Hester and Dimmesdale. What makes these characters similar is in the fact that they are all sinners. But the thing that makes these three different from one another, is in the way they deal with the guilt that comes with the sin. Hester is different from both Dimmesdale and Chillingworth in the fact…show more content…
Dimmesdale allows his guilt to overwhelm his soul while also weakening his body. “It seemed hardly the face of a man alive, with such a deathlike hue; it was hardly a man with life in him, that tottered on his path so nervelessly, yet tottered and did not fall” (206). While Chillingworth’s guilt alters his appearance. “Now there was something ugly and evil in his face, which they had not previously noticed, and which grew still the more obvious to sight, the oftener they looked upon him. According to the vulgar idea, the fire in his laboratory had been brought from the lower regions, and was fed with internal fuel; and so, as might be expected, his visage was getting sooty with the smoke” (78). Chillingworth has let his revenge get the better of him. His intention is to hurt Hester and Dimmesdale since Hester cheated on him. The scarlet letter is a constant reminder of their sin, which fuels his
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