Wickie 1Megan WickieMrs. McParlandENG 4ULJanuary 22, 2018Secrets Cause Harm in The Scarlet Letter With even the most regarded individuals, secrets can lead to their ruin. Secrecy drives individuals into exhaustion, and the psychological weight that accompanies it. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, different viewpoints demonstrate the varying manners by which individuals manage their secret sins. Hawthorne also outlines the consequences of secret keeping as well as the effect it could potentially have on one’s self.
The Puritan culture in which the story is set discourages the likelihood of the private self — which Hawthorne shows by making qualifications between the characters’ both private and public lives. The time period in which this novel is set is vital to its overall understanding. Nathaniel typically writes in the Romantic Era of American literature, and despite the fact that adultery is deceitful in any way shape or form, it was particularly in this day and age.
This era can be described as the “seventeenth century sexual repression and hypocrisy,” (Zabarenko PG), and for Hawthorne to choose such a controversial topic demonstrates a sensitive yet changing atmosphere concerning infidelity. In Puritan culture, law and religion were nearly identical and relatively indistinguishable. “The law itself was severe, and severely was it carried out” (Schwartz 203). Due to societal principles, Hester is disparaged for her act of adultery in the wake of having felt detained in a cold marriage. Hester and her “secret lover,” both realized that their transgression couldn’t be clarified by anything besides a passionate minute.
Dimmesdale is ultimately capable of escaping this transgression, whereas Hester is left to own up to her own sin herself. However, shame can continuously be confused with guilt, as Nathanson puts it, “shame is about the quality of our person or self… guilt is about action and laws.” And based on each ones considerations, Hester symbolizes the blameworthy one while Dimmesdale speaks to the disgraced partner. Hester never got the decision nor the choice between concealing it forever or telling the truth.
She was constantly out in the open for everybody to jab and ridicule. Furthermore, Dimmesdale can’t claim his affection because of the confinements set upon him; if he somehow happened to admit what he did, he would without a doubt be punished for it, and that punishment could potentially be death. One might think that Hester Prynne’s sentence, wearing the initial of her sin on her bosom, is a relatively easy one to bear, but rather “a penalty, which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with almost as stern a dignity as the punishment of death itself” (Hawthorne 47). In spite of the fact that at first filled with sorrow and misfortune over her demonstration of infidelity, Hester’s decision to embrace her action enables her to thrive, showing the feared letter ‘A’ she wears on her chest, with yet another significance. Hester’s scarlet letter “A” is basically a “punishment for a crime ..
. against religious doctrine” which endeavours to recapture control over the disagreeing mind and soul of Hester Prynne (Friedman 57). Although being an inevitable piece of any discussion about The Scarlet Letter, the embroidered “A” at first symbolizes “adultery” in the novel, yet later different individuals allot implications such as “angel” and “able” as the communities’ perspectives on Hester change through the course of the novel (Hawthorne 141). The significant issue with Hester’s discipline is that the exact importance of the sign, regardless of its obvious effortlessness, is neither settled nor straightforward.
The first and authority reason for existing is to point out her infidelity, yet despite the fact that her mistake might be clear to everybody, the word, “adulteress? isn’t once said throughout the novel. The way that the image takes into account a specific interpretative flexibility unavoidably brings about its inability to help and caution the group to remember the outcomes of a sexual wrongdoing. Hester’s mystery sin was uncovered to everybody in the community, which shielded it from having the capacity to destroy her inside. The original importance of the letter will, in the long run, eventually be forgotten and thus the red letter will neglect to express “Hester’s feelings and experience and fails, consequently, to discipline her” (Nudelman “Emblem” 194). The Puritan government committed an error by believing that the imposition of a public sign can reform the female deviant” (194).As is not out of the ordinary, the presumptions that are made about the idea of Hester leave an engraving on her mental self view. She fits to the public’s desires by acting the part.
Since she is believed to be a wicked outcast, she needs to have all the earmarks of being one. Subsequently, the female character turns into a casualty of masochism. We discover Hester every now and again focusing on that her deed has been insidious and rebuffing herself by dismissing all delights, for example, her embroidery, as a transgression. Also, every activity or great deed of hers has a tendency to be propelled to a specific degree by blame and is completed trying to accomplish reparation. If they were resolute to accost her, she laid her finger on the scarlet letter, and passed on. This might be pride, but was so like humility, that it produced all the softening influence of the latter quality on the public mind.
The public is despotic in its temper; it is capable of denying common justice, when too strenuously demanded as a right; but quite as frequently it awards more than justice, when the appeal is made, as despots love to have it made, entirely to its generosity. Interpreting Hester Prynne’s deportment as an appeal of this nature, society was inclined to show its former victim a more benign countenance than she cared to be favoured with, or, perchance, than she deserved. (Hawthorne 140)Despite the fact that Hester’s lead all through the story must be portrayed as inactive and even tame in connection to the Puritan laws, it would be wrong to describe her exclusively as a powerless, dependent, subordinate female creature.
The people of the town never again views Hester as a demonized miscreant, drawing in “the world’s scorn and bitterness”, however treats her with awe and worship rather (Hawthorne 227). As opposed to Hester, Arthur Dimmesdale declines to uncover the demonstration of infidelity, rather enabling it to diminish him through the course of the novel instead. The status of Dimmesdale is altogether different contrasted with Hester; an exceedingly respected reverend, he himself is resolved to keep the transgression a mystery from the earliest starting point. Regardless of this, Dimmesdale endeavours to keep his poise to the best of his capacity, in spite of the fact that it turns out to be extremely evident that something isn’t right with him. Over the long haul, Dimmesdale’s wellbeing starts to fall; he is depicted as: His form grew emaciated; his voice, though still rich and sweet, had a certain melancholy prophecy of decay in it; he was often observed, on any slight alarm or other sudden accident, to put his hand over his heart, with first a flush and then a paleness, indicative of pain.
(Hawthorne 113)Clearly, most villagers ascribe this to his persistent and debilitating commitment to his religious examinations, unconscious of the genuine evil that is disturbing him. Dimmesdale’s condition becomes worse, particularly under the meddling consideration of Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s significant other, who obviously has ulterior intentions in consenting to be his overseer. Nearing the end of the story, Dimmesdale’s conditions spike, however this time emphatically; this obviously happening after he acknowledges his sins and makes arrangements to escape the town with Hester and Pearl. Freeing himself of the terrible weight that Dimmesdale conveyed upon himself for a long time is liberating. Obviously, the heaviness of seven years isn’t so effortlessly cleansed; Dimmesdale uncovers to the majority of the community his transgression and throws away his articles of clothing to uncover his own one of a kind shame. Dimmesdale all of a sudden turns out to be exceptionally powerless and weaker by the moment, and suddenly passes away.
With his last minutes of life, readers are left with the consoling truth that Dimmesdale frees himself of the weight that he hid for so long. Be that as it may, this wake up call demonstrates that spending our lives endeavouring to store away our biggest and darkest secrets/sins isn’t prompted, seeing as how these actions brought about Dimmesdale paying the ultimate price in death. Hester’s secrets harmed a numerous amount of individuals rather than only Dimmesdale during the course of the novel.
Her secrets may have harmed Dimmesdale the most, yet it was these very acts that likewise brought about the demise of Chillingworth also. As seen in the text, “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!” (Hawthorne 175). He pledged reprisal since he didn’t know who the baby’s father was, which sent him and his wellbeing in a descending spiral. Her demonstrations in holding these secrets were destructive not only in harming a few handful of people, though the entire community as well.
The townspeople all in all needed to manage the disgrace of including an adulteress inside its jurisdiction and numerous individuals were appalled with its possibility. To exacerbate the situation, Hester hiding her sins caused the defeat of both the minister as well as the doctor, two of which were extremely regarded within their community. Hesters secrets caused Dimmesdale’s previously mentioned self mischief and Chillingworth’s dislike towards him, which when consolidated sent his wellbeing downwards rapidly, after he asked repeatedly; “‘What evil have I done the man?'” (Hawthorne 16). He, likewise sharing the mystery, inevitably fallen under the weight and, in his last sermon, passed away quickly. Chillingworth passed on also on the grounds that he had invested so much to his own vitality that it affected his wellbeing adversely.
While the previously mentioned characters manage their secrets in altogether various ways, the associations between them are additionally imperative to the message of secrecy. First off, the mystery is common; their demonstration of infidelity adequately bonds them together for whatever is left of their lives, regardless of whether they need to acknowledge it or not. Nonetheless, the two characters are compelled to manage it in discrete ways.
While raising a child with no father, Hester is thrown away by the group, and must then be mocked by the community. Dimmesdale, while confronting comparable emotions, is gifted with the blessing and additionally the scourge of keeping his association a mystery. Dimmesdale dodges open disparagement and keeps up his position as reverend, yet tried to manage the damaging mystery inside him, resulting in his demise. Before the finish of the novel, neither Hester nor Dimmesdale appear to lament the decisions they made, for the supernatural occurrence of Pearl was sufficient to legitimize their activities. As Pearl at long last kisses Dimmesdale, and “A spell was broken” (Hawthorne 23, 10-12).
While they are uninformed of what anticipates them in life following death, knowing their definitive destiny is dependent upon God, there is a shared feeling of peace between them realizing that Pearl will grow up to be alright. While the romantic tale of Dimmesdale and Hester might be appalling, their confirmation that Pearl will carry on with an upbeat life encourages them to rest effortlessly. Keeping a secret is an overwhelming task, and may influence a person in ways they don’t understand.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester and Dimmesdale are put in an extreme position where they have committed a dishonourable sin. Ultimately, Hester’s secret harmed many more people than just herself, and watching their lives unfold, readers are given understanding into how the hiding of sins can influence oneself. It was secrets like these that reason much agony, as they do in many circumstances throughout everyday life.Hawthorne may have frustrated some contemporary women’s activist perusers, however he has given his heroine “the happiest ending he can” (Bensick 157). Hawthorne by all accounts urges his audience to abstain from being placed in such circumstances; for that secrets hurt more than those who keep them.