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The themes of guilt and its effects as portrayed in nathaniel hawthornes the scarlet letter

Consequences of Sin and Guilt: In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne is not overly concerned with the sin that has been committed; he is more concerned with the results of the sin, with its effect on the persons involved. The Christian view however, is that the sin itself as well as its effects are to be considered.

God regards man's motives. And to him motives are important. Furthermore, the Bible condemns sin in all its forms. Hawthorne shows the woman suffering public shame and contempt, the sensitive and disturbed minister who hides his participation in the sin withering inside, and the jealous old man, Chillingworth, addicted by the madness of revenge.

Turner states that the author's "basic assumption is that reward and punishment are inevitable here and now--retribution for sin is certain" 58. Although many critics view Hester in a positive way, some liberal one sees her as degenerating spiritually since her thoughts are on earthly love as is clear in her conversation with Dimmesdale during their meeting in the forest.

It is also said that she "handles her guilt more successfully than Dimmesdale because her conscience is less highly developed than his" Crews 143.

  1. The Christian view however, is that the sin itself as well as its effects are to be considered.
  2. The original foe of his tranquility was guilt, guilt for his thoughtless surrender to passion.
  3. Some other consequences of sin are also evident in the story.
  4. Furthermore, the Bible condemns sin in all its forms.

Those who see her positively emphasize the transformation that she undergoes. Over the course of the years, she becomes involved in performing acts of charity and kindness to people in the community and shows her care and concern for the sick, the poor and the dying. Hawthorne observes that ". Hawthorne points out that while sin which is exposed and confessed, frees the sinner's mind and often brings about a transformation in the life, sin which is concealed and cherished tends to cause ruin and death.

Arthur Dimmesdale suffers during the seven years of silence.

The Scarlet Letter: Sin and Guilt

The source of his anguish is the regret he feels for his sin. Guilt eats away at his very soul and threatens to destroy him. Concerning the close relationship between the mind and the body, Ellen White writes: Frederick Crews comments on the devastating effects of guilt: The breach which guilt has once made into the human soul is never, in this mortal state, repaired.

It may be watched and guarded; so that the enemy shall not force his way again into the citadel, and might even, in his subsequent assaults, select some other avenue, in preference to that where he had formerly succeeded.

  • The source of his anguish is the regret he feels for his sin;
  • Turner states that the author's "basic assumption is that reward and punishment are inevitable here and now--retribution for sin is certain" 58.

But there is still the ruined wall, and near it, the stealthy tread of the foe that would win over again his unforgotten triumph. The original foe of his tranquility was guilt, guilt for his thoughtless surrender to passion. Turner agrees that guilt destroys the minister.

  • God regards man's motives;
  • Turner agrees that guilt destroys the minister.

Dimmesdale thinks his concealment to be a sin, and this is what delivers him into the hands of Chillingworth, who exclaims at the time of the final confession that in no other way could his victim have escaped him 59.

He clings like a leech to the minister intent on taking his revenge and willing to become a devil. How does this affect him? He becomes more distorted and ugly. He is led to commit what some critics call the unpardonable sin by his lack of human sympathy.

Of him Hester says, "That old man's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart" Chapter 17.

Some other consequences of sin are also evident in the story. Sin is an estrangement from God on the part of a morally free person.

Volume V Issue I January 2016

It occurs when one transgresses God's laws. Sin not only isolates man from God, it also alienates him from his fellowmen. The characters in The Scarlet Letter all suffer isolation as a result of their sins, as Arlin Turner notes: Pearl was born an outcast and remains at war with her world until the expiation of the final confession scene. Hester lives at the edge of the village and years afterward, when Pearl has married, returns to finish out her life at the same spot. The scarlet letter, when she first wrote it, 'had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and enclosing her in a sphere by herself,' and as time passed, it became everywhere apparent 'that she was banished, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs and senses than the rest of human kind.

  • Arthur Dimmesdale suffers during the seven years of silence;
  • Concerning the close relationship between the mind and the body, Ellen White writes;
  • But there is still the ruined wall, and near it, the stealthy tread of the foe that would win over again his unforgotten triumph;
  • In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne is not overly concerned with the sin that has been committed; he is more concerned with the results of the sin, with its effect on the persons involved;
  • He is led to commit what some critics call the unpardonable sin by his lack of human sympathy;
  • Some other consequences of sin are also evident in the story.