Own but the truth of it has
Own That Sin The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a very popular story. In the story, Hester Prynne is married to a man named Chillingworth but she cheats on him with a man named Dimmesdale. After the affair, Hester is doomed to wear a big letter “A” on her chest until she dies. The scarlet letter is more than just a punishment for Hester’s crime of adultery.
It is a symbol that Hawthorne uses and changes throughout the story. Hawthorne creates a mirror image with Hester and her scarlet letter, such that they two transform with each other throughout the book.At the beginning of the story, the scarlet letter upon Hester’s chest held its intended meaning; adultery. This is when Hester first received the letter and was the adulteress of her town. This “A” is the puritan’s way of punishing someone who commits the crime of adultery. Although some people of the town felt that being forced to bear the shame of this on your chest for the rest of your life was not severe enough. Some of the puritan’s believed that “At the very least, they should have put the brand of hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead.
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Madam Hester would have winced at that, I warrant me. But she, — the naughty baggage, — little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown! ” (36). However, the majority of the town felt that the letter would bring her enough shame to last her lifetime. Time would surely prove the town wrong. After Hester had been released from jail, her and her daughter Pearl went to go live in a little cottage outside of town. To avoid discrimination, Hester stayed inside the cottage as much as she could. The scarlet letter dropped the meaning of adultery and began to mean alone and alienated.
Hester could feel the sting of being alone, but she was not going to let it bring her down. She realized that as lonely as she was, “… without a friend on earth who dared to show himself, she, however, incurred no risk of want.
” (56). She became very attached to her needle. Along with her daughter, sewing clothes for the deceased helped give her a purpose in her lonely life. It is later revealed in the story that the minister, Dimmesdale, is the father of little Pearl. The puritan people are not aware of this, but the truth of it has began to eat Dimmesdale away from the inside out.
Hester realized this and she tried to console him. However, Hester “was shocked at the condition to which she found the clergyman reduced. His nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. ” (109). In her efforts to do so, Dimmesdale came to realize that she was an angel of mercy.
Hester’s “A” had transformed yet again. It had now taken on the meaning of “Angel” or “Acceptance”. Because of the letter, Hester never fought with anyone and she never asked people for sympathy. She was also “..
. so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comfortable to the afflicted! ” (109).In return she was respected for not stepping on anybodies toes and for living a sin free life since the start of her punishment. Hester knew she had sinned and she owned up to it, and clearly the town had realized the same thing. Once the end of the story approaches, the meaning of the letter as taken on the meaning of “Authentic American”.
She is an inspiration so all of those around her. Hester was able to take her sin, own it, and turn it into something that is good. After Dimmesdale at passed away, she went across the ocean to Europe for awhile and while on her trip, she threw the “A” into the ocean where it would be lost forever.She had overcome her sin and she no longer needed to tell those around her about what she had done. This encouraged others to overcome their wrongdoings and to be free, which is what being an American is all about. Hawthorne was able to cleverly use the “A” as a symbol to teach his audience how to own their sin, own their wrongdoings, and how to grow from them.
If someone is able to own their sin, they will be able to grow from them. Otherwise the sin could eat its victim from the inside out. Being honest with oneself and everyone around them is the key to living an easy and happy life.