Hadlund 1

Lauren Hadlund

Mrs. Goertz

Enriched English 9/ Hour 3

14 January, 2009

Masochistic, Nihilistic

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne chooses to conclude his book by reiterating the main theme: sin. He uses the quote "we are all sinners alike" (241). This also speaks volumes about how Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale were both guilty of the same sin but were treated in totally different ways because of how public they were about what they had done.

Arthur Dimmesdale was a revered citizen of Boston, and as a Reverend, he was held to the highest standards possible during that time. However, he committed adultery with Hester Prynne, and as a result there was a child. But no one knows that Dimmesdale's the father, as there was no physical evidence to attach him to the sin, Hester, or Pearl. He manifested his guilt secretly, by carving an "A" into his chest (238). His own personal scarlet letter.

Hester, however, wears her scarlet letter dead center on her breast (60), stays in Boston (84), and deals with her punishment head-on. It's a daily reminder of the sin she committed, giving her the shame it was intended to bring. Because she is so forward about her sin, the Puritans condemn her to a lower-life style, shun her, and isolate her.

It can be argued that the self-inflicted punishment that Dimmesdale commits is equal to Hester's, but that depends on which side it is viewed on. Either way, they both sinned and were both were punished severely for it. This is a reoccurring theme in the novel; it's what the whole book is about. Though one was public and one was private, both were severe punishments and both took their tolls on the characters in The Scarlet Letter.