Scarlet Letter's Theme

The Scarlet Letter has been considered a landmark in literature for years and years. Part of the reason for this is because of its message to "be true, be true." This novel demonstrates this moral through the actions of the two main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Many people have learned this important "moral blossom" and have held it with them, remembering it in their times of confusion. The book teaches us that it is better to show the world your faults than to lie and let them fester inside. Through their actions, each of these characters in the novel either (a) are true and prosper, or (b) keep themselves and their faults hidden and eventually face a terrible downfall.

Hester goes against Hawthorne s message and destroys herself by not being true to the world, although she later tells the truth and redeems herself. Hester Prynne commits adultery with Arthur Dimmesdale, the well-respected, popular priest. The town finds out about it when two other priests hear Dimmesdale praying, asking God to forgive him for his sin. Word eventually spreads, and he must endure the admonishment of the town, becoming an outcast in society, wearing a scarlet "A" on his chest for "adulterer". Hester never tells the town that she helped Dimmesdale with his sin. This is her fatal mistake. For the next seven years, she can do nothing more than hate herself for her lie, letting her guilt eat her. She physically abuses herself, beating herself with "a bloody scourge" (76) and holding night-long vigils. Her inner feelings manifest themselves on the outside, causing her to become very ill. However, she later on admits her sin, and although she dies from her illness, she dies with a peaceful heart. As you see, when she lied, she ruined herself, and although she did die, she died without that emotional burden after admitting her sin, and helped herself in that way.

Arthur Dimmesdale, however, holds to the truth and becomes strong because of it. He never lies about his sin...the "A" on his chest kind of forces him to acknowledge it. As a result, he goes out into society and helps others, becoming an "angel of mercy" to other souls who are lost. He has nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. So what can he do? He can make the most of the situation by helping others, which is what he does. Therefore, he becomes a respected member of the community, giving back what he took away through his sin. Also, after he kills one of Hester s children, Pearl, he admits it. Therefore, he is regarded with greater respect for admitting what he did. He shows that by telling the truth, you help yourself in the end.

These two characters show that the "sweet moral blossom" indeed does hold truth. In showing the world that you are not perfect, you help yourself by giving yourself the air of trustworthinesss and integrity.

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