Exposed Sin Vs. Hidden Sin In The Scarlet Letter

664 words - 3 pages

Exposed Sin vs. Hidden Sin

Since the beginning of time we have shown our imperfections as human beings. As detailed by the Bible in the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge committing the original sin. This infraction against God resulted in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and set the foundation for the judgment of mankind. The word sin derives from Old English synn and is defined as something shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong. In this essay I will be comparing exposed sin to hidden sin as related to The Scarlet Letter, and the effects it has on people.
In Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne represents the exposed sin while Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth represent the hidden sin. Hester Prynne’s sin is exposed on the scaffold in front of the townspeople. For punishment she is made to wear the letter “A”, for adulteress, on her bosom. Hester’s daughter, Pearl, is herself a symbol of the scarlet letter. Pearl is always seen with Hester just as the scarlet letter is always seen on Hester. In a way Hester is “wearing” Pearl as another symbol to express the sin she has committed. At first the scarlet letter is a burden for Hester but it eventually leads to her redemption and independence. After so many years Hester is able to wear the scarlet letter proudly and dies with honor instead of disgrace.
Contrarily, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale chooses to conceals his sin which leads to the deterioration of his physical and spiritual health, and ultimately leads to his death. Dimmesdale is given several opportunities to confess his sin but refrains from doing so, looking for penitence - fasting and whipping himself - but finds no solace. After years of bearing such guilt, Dimmesdale tells the townspeople that he is Hester’s secret lover and Pearl’s father before his death. Confessing his sin allows Dimmesdale to find peace before death however, the...

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