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The Scarlet Letter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Scarlet Letter (1850) is a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, considered to be his "magnum opus" and most amous wor!"#1$ %et in 1&th'century (uritan )oston, it tells the story o Hester (rynne, who gives birth a ter committing adultery and struggles to create a new li e o repentance and dignity" *hroughout the novel, Hawthorne e+plores themes o legalism, sin, and guilt"

Plot summary
*he novel ta!es place during the summer in 1&th'century )oston, ,assachusetts in a (uritan village" young woman, named Hester (rynne, has been led rom the town prison with her in ant daughter in her arms and on the breast o her gown "a rag o scarlet cloth" that "assumed the shape o a letter"" .t was the uppercase letter "-"" *he %carlet /etter "-" represents the act o adultery that she has committed and it is to be a symbol o her sin0a badge o shame0 or all to see" - man in the crowd tells an elderly onloo!er that Hester is being punished or adultery" Hester1s husband, who is much older than she, and whose real name is un!nown, has sent her ahead to -merica whilst settling a airs in 2urope" However, her husband does not arrive in )oston, and the consensus is that he has been lost at sea" .t is apparent that, while waiting or her husband, Hester has had an a air, leading to the birth o her daughter" %he will not reveal her lover1s identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her subse3uent public shaming, is the punishment or her sin and secrecy" 4n this day Hester is led to the town sca old and harangued by the town athers, but she again re uses to identi y her child1s ather"#5$ *he elderly onloo!er is Hester1s missing husband, who is now practicing medicine and calling himsel 6oger 7hillingworth" He settles in )oston, intent on revenge" He reveals his true identity to no one but Hester, whom he has sworn to secrecy" %everal years pass" Hester supports hersel by wor!ing as a seamstress, and her daughter (earl grows into a will ul, impish child0in Hawthorne1s wor!, (earl is more o a symbol than an actual character0and is said to be the scarlet letter come to li e as both Hester1s love and her punishment" %hunned by the community, they live in a small cottage on the outs!irts o )oston" 7ommunity o icials attempt to ta!e (earl away rom Hester, but with the help o -rthur 8immesdale, an elo3uent minister, the mother and daughter manage to stay together" 8immesdale, however, appears to be wasting away and su ers rom mysterious heart trouble, seemingly caused by psychological distress" 7hillingworth attaches himsel to the ailing minister and eventually moves in with him so that he can provide his patient with round'the'cloc! care" 7hillingworth also suspects that there may be a connection between the minister1s torments and Hester1s secret, and he begins to test 8immesdale to see what he can learn" 4ne a ternoon, while the minister sleeps, 7hillingworth discovers something undescribed to the reader, supposedly an "-" burned into 8immesdale1s chest, which convinces him that his suspicions are correct"#5$

The Scarlet Letter" (ainting by *" H" ,atteson" *his 1890 oil'on'canvas may have been made with Hawthorne1s advice"#5$ 8immesdale1s psychological anguish deepens, and he invents new tortures or himsel " .n the meantime, Hester1s charitable deeds and 3uiet humility have earned her a reprieve rom the scorn o the community" 4ne night, when (earl is about seven years old, she and her mother are returning home rom a visit to the deathbed o :ohn ;inthrop when they encounter 8immesdale atop the town sca old, trying to punish himsel or his sins" Hester and (earl <oin him, and the three lin! hands" 8immesdale re uses (earl1s re3uest that he ac!nowledge her publicly the ne+t day, and a meteor mar!s a dull red "-" in the night s!y" .t is interpreted by the towns ol! to mean Angel, as a prominent igure in the community had died that night, but 8immesdale sees it as meaning adultery" Hester can see that the minister1s condition is worsening, and she resolves to intervene" %he goes to 7hillingworth and as!s him to stop adding to 8immesdale1s sel 'torment" 7hillingworth re uses" %he suggests that she may reveal his true identity to 8immesdale"#5$ /ater in the story, while wal!ing through the orest, the sun would not shine on Hester, although (earl could bas! in it" *hey then encounter 8immesdale, as he is ta!ing a wal! in the woods that day" Hester in orms 8immesdale o the true identity o 7hillingworth and the ormer lovers decide to lee to 2urope, where they can live with (earl as a amily" *hey will ta!e a ship sailing rom )oston in our days" )oth eel a sense o release, and Hester removes her scarlet letter and lets down her hair" *he sun immediately brea!s through the clouds and trees to illuminate her release and <oy" (earl, playing nearby, does not recogni=e her mother without the letter" %he is unnerved and e+pels a shrie! until her mother points out the letter on the ground" Hester bec!ons (earl to come to her, but (earl will not go to her mother until Hester buttons the letter bac! onto her dress" (earl then goes to her mother" 8immesdale gives (earl a !iss on the orehead, which (earl immediately tries to wash o in the broo!, because he again re uses to ma!e !nown publicly their relationship" However, he too clearly eels a release rom the pretense o his ormer li e, and the laws and sins he has lived with" *he day be ore the ship is to sail, the townspeople gather or a holiday put on in honor o an election and 8immesdale preaches his most elo3uent sermon ever" ,eanwhile, Hester has learned that 7hillingworth !nows o their plan and has boo!ed passage on the same ship" 8immesdale, leaving the church a ter his sermon, sees Hester and (earl standing be ore the town sca old" He impulsively mounts the sca old with his

lover and his daughter, and con esses publicly, e+posing the mar! supposedly seared into the lesh o his chest" He alls dead <ust a ter (earl !isses him"#5$ >rustrated in his revenge, 7hillingworth dies a year later" Hester and (earl leave )oston, and no one !nows what has happened to them" ,any years later, Hester returns alone, still wearing the scarlet letter, to live in her old cottage and resumes her charitable wor!" %he receives occasional letters rom (earl, who was rumored to have married a 2uropean aristocrat and established a amily o her own" (earl also inherits all o 7hillingworth1s money even though he !nows she is not his daughter" *here is a sense o liberation in her and the townspeople, especially the women, who had inally begun to orgive Hester o her tragic indiscretion" ;hen Hester dies, she is buried in "a new grave near an old and sun!en one, in that burial ground beside which ?ing1s 7hapel has since been built" .t was near that old and sun!en grave, yet with a space between, as i the dust o the two sleepers had no right to mingle" @et one tombstone served or both"" *he tombstone was decorated with a letter "-", or Hester and 8immesdale"

Major themes

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sin
*he e+perience o Hester and 8immesdale recalls the story o -dam and 2ve because, in both cases, sin results in e+pulsion and su ering" )ut it also results in !nowledge0speci ically, in !nowledge o what it means to be human" >or Hester, the scarlet letter unctions as "her passport into regions where other women dared not tread", leading her to "speculate" about her society and hersel more "boldly" than anyone else in New 2ngland"#A$ -s or 8immesdale, the "cheating minister" o his sin gives him "sympathies so intimate with the sin ul brotherhood o man!ind, so that his chest vibrate#s$ in unison with theirs"" His elo3uent and power ul sermons derive rom this sense o empathy"#A$ *he narrative o the 6everend -rthur 8immesdale is 3uite in !eeping with the oldest and most ully authori=ed principles in 7hristian thought" His ">all" is a descent rom apparent grace to his own damnationB he appears to begin in purity" He ends in corruption" *he subtlety is that the minister is his own deceiver, convincing himsel at every stage o his spiritual pilgrimage that he is saved"#C$

*he rosebush, its beauty a stri!ing contrast to all that surrounds it0as later the beauti ully embroidered scarlet - will beDis held out in part as an invitation to ind "some sweet moral blossom" in the ensuing, tragic tale and in part as an image that "the deep heart o nature" (perhaps Eod) may loo! more !indly on the errant Hester and her child than her (uritan neighbors do" *hroughout the wor!, the nature images contrast with the star! dar!ness o the (uritans and their systems"#5$ 7hillingworth1s misshapen body re lects (or symboli=es) the anger in his soul, which builds as the novel progresses, similar to the way 8immesdale1s illness reveals his inner turmoil" *he outward man re lects the condition o the heart"#5$ -lthough (earl is a comple+ character, her primary unction within the novel is as a symbol" (earl hersel is the embodiment o the scarlet letter, and Hester rightly clothes her in a beauti ul dress o scarlet, embroidered with gold thread, <ust li!e the scarlet letter upon Hester1s bosom"#A$ (arallels can be drawn between (earl and the character )eatrice in Rappaccini's Daughter" )oth are studies in the same direction, though rom di erent standpoints" )eatrice is nourished upon poisonous plants, until she hersel becomes poisonous" (earl, in the mysterious prenatal world, imbibes the poison o her parents1 guilt"

Past and present


*he clashing o past and present is e+plored in various ways" >or e+ample, the character o the old Eeneral, whose heroic 3ualities include a distinguished name, perseverance, integrity, compassion, and moral inner strength, is said to be "the soul and spirit o New 2ngland hardihood"" Now put out to pasture, he sometimes presides over the 7ustom House run by corrupt public servants, who s!ip wor! to sleep, allow or overloo! smuggling, and are supervised by an inspector with "no power o thought, nor depth o eeling, no troublesome sensibilities", who is honest enough but without a spiritual compass"#5$ Hawthorne himsel had ambivalent eelings about the role o his ancestors in his li e" .n his autobiographical s!etch, Hawthorne described his ancestors as "dim and dus!y", "grave, bearded, sable'cloa!ed, and steel crowned", "bitter persecutors" whose "better deeds" would be diminished by their bad ones" *here can be little doubt o Hawthorne1s disdain or the stern morality and rigidity o the (uritans, and he imagined his predecessors1 disdain ul view o himF unsuccess ul in their eyes, worthless and disgrace ul" "- writer o story boo!sG" )ut even as he disagrees with his ancestors1 viewpoint, he also eels an instinctual connection to them and, more importantly, a "sense o place" in %alem" *heir blood remains in his veins, but their intolerance and lac! o humanity becomes the sub<ect o his novel"#5$

Publication history
Hawthorne originally planned The Scarlet Letter to be a shorter novelette which was part o a collection to be named Old Time Legends" His publisher, :ames *homas >ields, convinced him to e+pand the novelette to a ull'length novel"#9$ Hawthorne1s wi e %ophia later disputed that >ields had a larger role than this, complaining that "he has made the absurd boast that he was the sole cause o the %carlet /etter being publishedG" %he noted that her husband1s riend 2dwin (ercy ;hipple, a critic, approached >ields to consider its publication"#&$ The Scarlet Letter was published as a novel in the spring o 1850 by *ic!nor H >ields, beginning Hawthorne1s most lucrative period"#8$ ;hen he delivered the inal pages to >ields in >ebruary 1850,

Hawthorne said that "some portions o the boo! are power ully written" but doubted it would be popular"#I$ .n act, the boo! was an instant best'seller#10$ though, over ourteen years, it brought its author only J1,500"#8$ .ts initial publication brought wide protest rom natives o %alem, who did not approve o how Hawthorne had depicted them in his introduction "*he 7ustom'House"" - 5,500'copy second edition o The Scarlet Letter included a pre ace by Hawthorne dated ,arch A0, 1850, that he had decided to reprint his introduction "without the change o a word""" *he only remar!able eatures o the s!etch are its ran! and genuine good' humor""" -s to enmity, or ill' eeling o any !ind, personal or political, he utterly disclaims such motives""#11$ *he boo!1s immediate and lasting success are due to the way it addresses spiritual and moral issues rom a uni3uely -merican standpoint"#citation needed$ .n 1850, adultery was an e+tremely ris3uK sub<ect, but because Hawthorne had the support o the New 2ngland literary establishment, it passed easily into the realm o appropriate reading" .t has been said that this wor! represents the height o Hawthorne1s literary geniusB dense with terse descriptions" .t remains relevant or its philosophical and psychological depth, and continues to be read as a classic tale on a universal theme"#15$ The Scarlet Letter was also one o the irst mass'produced boo!s in -merica" .nto the mid'nineteenth century, boo!binders o home'grown literature typically hand'made their boo!s and sold them in small 3uantities" *he irst mechani=ed printing o The Scarlet Letter, 5,500 volumes, sold out within ten days,#8$ and was widely read and discussed to an e+tent not much e+perienced in the young country up until that time" 7opies o the irst edition are o ten sought by collectors as rare boo!s, and may etch up to around J9,000 L%8"

Critical response
4n its publication, critic 2vert -ugustus 8uyc!inc!, a riend o Hawthorne1s, said he pre erred the author1s ;ashington .rving'li!e tales" -nother riend, critic 2dwin (ercy ;hipple, ob<ected to the novel1s "morbid intensity" with dense psychological details, writing that the boo! "is there ore apt to become, li!e Hawthorne, too pain ully anatomical in his e+hibition o them""#1A$ 4n the other hand, 50th century writer 8" H" /awrence said that there could be no more per ect wor! o the -merican imagination than The Scarlet Letter"#1C$ Henry :ames once said o the novel, ".t is beauti ul, admirable, e+traordinaryB it has in the highest degree that merit which . have spo!en o as the mar! o Hawthorne1s best things''an inde inable purity and lightness o conception"""4ne can o ten return to itB it supports amiliarity and has the ine+haustible charm and mystery o great wor!s o art""#15$

?ing1s 7hapel )urying Eround in the inal paragraph e+istsB the 2li=abeth (ain gravestone is traditionally considered an inspiration or the protagonists1 grave"

Character Analysis
Arthur immesdale
8immesdale, the personi ication o "human railty and sorrow," is young, pale, and physically delicate" He has large, melancholy eyes and a tremulous mouth, suggesting great sensitivity" -n ordained (uritan minister, he is well educated, and he has a philosophical turn o mind" *here is no doubt that he is devoted to Eod, passionate in his religion, and e ective in the pulpit" He also has the principal con lict in the novel, and his agoni=ed su ering is the direct result o his inability to disclose his sin"

4 the our ma<or characters in this novel, which investigates the nature o evil and sin and is a criticism o (uritan rigidity and intolerance, 8immesdale is the only (uritan" 4ne really cannot understand 8immesdale or his dilemma without at least a cursory understanding o the (uritans who inhabited )oston at this time (see the essay "*he (uritan 7ommunity" in the 7ritical 2ssays) and Hawthorne1s psychological perspective through which he presents this tragic character" .n (uritan terms, 8immesdale1s predicament is that he is unsure o his soul1s statusF He is e+emplary in per orming his duties as a (uritan minister, an indicator that he is one o the electB however, he !nows he has sinned and considers himsel a hypocrite, a sign he is not chosen" *he vigils he !eeps are representative o this inward struggle to ascertain his heavenly status, the status o his very soul" Note that Hawthorne says o 8immesdale1s nightly vigils, which are sometimes in dar!ness, sometimes in dim light, and sometimes by the most power ul light which he could throw upon it, "He thus typi ied the constant introspection wherewith he tortured " " "" 7haracter -nalysis

Arthur immesdale
>inally, to add to the 8immesdale dilemma, the (uritans 0 there ore, 8immesdale 0 did not believe that good wor!s or moral living earned salvation or the individual" -s 8immesdale states, "*here is no substance in it #good wor!s$"" (Hester, who is not (uritan, believes that 8immesdale1s good wor!s should bring him peace") *he (uritan reasoning was that, i one could earn hisMher way into heaven, Eod1s sovereignty is diminished" %ince Eod created the soul and in used it in the human body, salvation is predestined" *hey reasoned that the elect 0 that is, Eod1s chosen people 0 would not or could not commit evil actsB they would act the role, as it wereB thus, 8immesdale1s dilemma" -s a minister, 8immesdale has a voice that consoles and an ability to sway audiences" His congregation adores him and his parishioners see! his advice" -s a minister, 8immesdale must be above reproach, and there is no 3uestion that he e+cels at his pro ession and en<oys a reputation among his congregation and other ministers" His soul aside, he does do good wor!s" His ministry aids people in leading good lives" . he publicly con esses, he loses his ability to be e ective in this regard" >or 8immesdale, however, his e ectiveness betrays his desire to con ess" *he more he su ers, the better his sermons become" *he more he whips himsel , the more elo3uent he is on %unday and the more his congregation worships his words" Nevertheless, Hawthorne states in 7hapter 50, "No man, or any considerable period, can wear one ace to himsel , and another to the multitude, without inally getting bewildered as to which may be true""

Character Analysis
Arthur immesdale
8immesdale1s struggle is dar! and his penance is horri ying as he tries to unravel his mystery" .n 7hapter 11, "*he .nterior o a Heart," 8immesdale struggles with his !nowledge o his sin, his inability to disclose it to (uritan society, and his desire or penance" He !nows his actions have allen short o both Eod1s standards

and his own, and he ears this represents his lac! o salvation" .n an attempt to see! salvation, he asts until he aints and whips himsel on the shoulders until he bleeds" )ut these punishments are done in private rather than in public and do not provide the cleansing 8immesdale see!s and needs" -s a sinner, he is wea!ened to temptation" -s demonstrated later, his wea!ened condition ma!es it easier or him to associate himsel with the )lac! ,an in the orest" His congregation e+pects him to be above other mortals, and his li e and thoughts must e+ist on a higher spiritual plane than others" -ccordingly, his wonder ul sermons are applauded by all or a reason his listeners don1t understandF %in and agony have enabled the intellectual scholar'minister to recogni=e and empathi=e with other sinners" .n the orest scene, 8immesdale evidently reali=es that he is human and should as! orgiveness and do penance openly" 4n the way home, he sees how ar his de enses have been breached by evil" *hese thoughts e+plain why he can so easily write his 2lection 8ay sermon, which is illed with the passion o his struggle and his humanity"

Character Analysis
Arthur immesdale
8immesdale1s con ession in the third sca old scene and the clima+ o the story is the action that ensures his salvation" *he reader senses that whether chosen or earned, 8immesdale1s salvation is a reality" Having had several opportunities to con ess, without success until this scene, true to his nature i not his ministry, he as!s Eod1s orgiveness not only or himsel , but also or 7hillingworth, who con irms the minister1s triumph when he laments, "*hou hast escaped meG " " " *hou hast escaped meG" 8immesdale1s con ession also brings about (earl1s humane metamorphosis" .n the long run, 8immesdale has not the strength o Hester (rynne or her honesty" He cannot stand alone to con ess" .n death, perhaps he will ind a gentler <udgment that his own or that o his ellow citi=ens o )oston"

Study and !ome"ork !elp


Famous #uotes from The Scarlet Letter
Here are some e+amples o Nathaniel Hawthorne1s most amiliar 3uotes rom The Scarlet Letter. .n these e+amples, you will see how the author touches on deep psychological and romantic themes, heavily inspired by (uritan New 2ngland" ".t may serve, let us hope, to symboli=e some sweet moral blossom that may be ound along the trac!, or relieve the dar!ening close o a tale o human railty and sorrow"" 7hapter ., 1*he (rison'8oor1 "4ne to!en o her shame would but poorly serve to hide another"" 7hapter .., 1*he ,ar!et'(lace1 "-h, but let her cover the mar! as she will, the pang o it will be always in her heart"" 7hapter .., 1*he ,ar!et'(lace1

"1(eople say,1 said another, 1that the 6everend ,aster 8immesdale, her godly pastor, ta!es it very grievously to his heart that such a scandal has come upon his congregation"" 7hapter .., 1*he ,ar!et'(lace1 ".n our nature, however, there is a provision, ali!e marvellous and merci ul, that the su erer should never !now the intensity o what he endures by its present torture, but chie ly by the pang that ran!les a ter it"" 7hapter .., 1*he ,ar!et'(lace1 ";hen he ound the eyes o Hester (rynne astened on his own, and saw that she appeared to recogni=e him, he slowly and calmly raised his inger, made a gesture with it in the air, and laid it on his lips"" 7hapter ..., 1*he 6ecognition1 ")ut she named the in ant 1(earl,1 as being o great price' purchased with all she had' her mother1s only pleasure"" 7hapter N., 1(earl1 "- bodily disease, which we loo! upon as whole and entire within itsel , may, a ter all, be but a symptom o some ailment in the spiritual part"" 7hapter O, 1*he /eech and His (atient1 "He hath done a wild thing ere now, this pious ,r" 8immesdale, in the hot passion o his heartG" 7hapter O, 1*he /eech and His (atient1 "- pure hand needs no glove to cover it"" 7hapter O.., 1*he ,inisterPs Nigil1 ".t is to the credit o human nature, that, e+cept where its sel ishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates" Hatred, by a gradual and 3uiet process, will even be trans ormed to love, unless the change be impeded by a continually new irritation o the original eeling o hostility"" 7hapter O..., 1-nother Niew o Hester1 "/et men tremble to win the hand o woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion o her heartG 2lse it may be their miserable ortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awa!ened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even or the calm content, the marble image o happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality"" 7hapter ON, 1Hester and (earl1 "%he had wandered, without rule or guidance, into a moral wilderness" Her intellect and heart had their home, as it were, in desert places, where she roamed as reely as the wild .ndian in his woods" *he scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread" %hame, 8espair, %olitudeG *hese had been her teachers ' stern and wild ones ' and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss"" 7hapter ON..., 1- >lood o %unshine1 ")ut this had been a sin o passion, not o principle, nor even purpose"" 7hapter ON..., 1- >lood o %unshine1 "%he had not !nown the weight until she elt the reedom"" 7hapter ON..., 1- >lood o %unshine1 "No man or any considerable period can wear one ace to himsel and another to the multitude, without inally getting bewildered as to which may be the true"" 7hapter OO, 1*he ,inister in a ,a=e1

$e%erend Arthur immesdale


7haracter -nalysis

6everend 8immesdale is one troubled (and multi' aceted) man" - brilliant spea!er, a !ind man, a wise reverend D everyone loves this guy" HePs pretty much a roc! star in the ,assachusetts )ay 7olony (and that doesnPt seem li!e such an easy eat in (uritan society)" Howsoever, he was also HesterPs illicit lover and the ather o her child, (earl" He remains silent about his sin, even while he publicly urges Hester to reveal the name o her lover" *he narrator indicates that 8immesdale is one o those individuals who secretly practices sel ' lagellation (basically, beating himsel ) to punish himsel or his sin" *his suggests that he is susceptible to shame, but secretive about itB he pre ers to punish himsel rather than to be punished by others" .t also leaves open the 3uestion that emerges laterF did 8immesdale create the mar! on his chest himsel , or was it put there by the )lac! ,an (%atan), or did it emerge on his s!in because o the struggle occurring in his soulQ 8immesdale is a hypocrite through much o the boo!" He remains the respected and saintly minister on the outside, but his conscience eats away at him until he can hardly stand himsel " He wants people to see him or who he really is" *hough he tries to con ess his sins to the congregation, they do not ta!e him seriously, because he is never speci ic about the sins he has committed" >or seven years, 8immesdale is silent, and his health declines as a result" *oday, we would maybe say hePs depressed, and that his depression is so bad that it becomes atal" .n 7hristian theology, sin leads to death unless an individual accepts EodPs ree gi t o orgiveness (this is the concept o grace)" .n 8immesdalePs case, uncon essed sin literally drives him to his demise >or a ew moments, really <ust two days, we see 8immesdale turn away rom his ormer commitment to 7hristian ideals and morality" His decision to run away with Hester leaves him open to all sorts o suggestions rom the )lac! ,an" Lltimately, however, 8immesdalePs better sel reasserts itsel " -lthough he has ta!en seven years to reach the point where he recogni=es he is destroying himsel with his guilt, the moment does inally arrive" *he 6everend 8immesdale represents a wea! man who sins but ails to accept public condemnation or his sin" His subse3uent hypocrisy, however, eats away at him until his health ails" 6ecogni=ing that death is imminent, he chooses to puri y his soul at the last minute by con essing his sin publicly and revealing the scarlet letter A that has appeared on his chest over his heart" *he symbol on his s!in suggests that, though we may hide our sins as best we can, they will always sur ace and be revealed"

Three Scaffold Scenes - Progression of Dimmesdale


.n *he %carlet /etter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays -rthur 8immesdale as a troubled individual" .n him lies the central con lict o the boo!" 8immesdalePs soul is torn between two opposing orcesF his heart, his love or reedom and his passion or Hester (rynne, and his head, his !nowledge o (uritanism and its denial o leshly love" He has committed the sin o adultery but cannot see! divine orgiveness, believing as the (uritans did that sinners received no grace" His dilemma, his struggle to cope with sin, mani ests itsel in the three sca old scenes depicted in *he %carlet /etter" *hese scenes orm a progression through which 8immesdale at irst denies, then accepts reluctantly, and inally con3uers his sin" 8uring Hester (rynnePs three'hour ignominy, 8immesdale openly denies his sin" Hawthorne introduces 8immesdale as Ra being who elt himsel 3uite astray and at a loss in the pathway o human e+istenceS (9C)" *he author made it obvious that a grim secret lies hidden in the depths o 8immesdalePs soul" *his secret, however, does not reveal itsel immediately, since 8immesdale hides it rom the closely watching town" .n

addition, he magni ies his own denial o his sin when he charges Hester to Rspea! out the name o thy ellow' sinner and ellow'su ererS(95)" )y deliberately spea!ing to Hester as i the sinner were not himsel , the pastor ma!es sure that nobody suspects him" 4ne may also interpret 8immesdalePs speech as a hint to Hester not to name him" He eels he must Radd hypocrisy to sinS in order to !eep his standing in the town" He thin!s that i the town inds out about his sin, they will never orgive him, much li!e his belie system tells him that Eod will never orgive him" %o great is his relie when he inds that Rshe will not spea!S that he stands in awe o the Rwondrous strength and generosity o a womanPs heartS(99)" 8espite an inward wish or his sin to be discovered, 8immesdale eels better !nowing that Hester will not willingly e+pose him" .n this scene in ront o the town, 8immesdale shows his original strength o character, which will diminish along the course o the boo!" .n the middle o the night, seven years a ter HesterPs punishment, 8immesdale holds a vigil on the sca old where he inally accepts his sin" *he battle within 8immesdale between R6emorse, which dogged him everywhereS and R7owardice, which invariably drew him bac!S(1CC) leads to a temporary compromise in his midnight vigil" Here, he openly con esses his sin not to the town, but to himsel " *his proves as a gigantic step toward salvation'his sel ' orgiveness" .n addition, the death o Eovernor ;inthrop not only represents the death o (uritan society, but also the death o certain (uritan values within 8immesdale" He no longer buries his sin deep within himsel " His sin rests on the sur ace o his soul (and his chest as well)'a condition that causes his already pe<orative health to waste away even aster" *his scene shows the progressive wea!ening o 8immesdalePs (uritan inhibitions as well as the continuous strengthening o his passionate side" .n the inal sca old scene, 8immesdale inally con3uers his sin and delivers himsel into the hands o a waiting Eod" He escapes the 8evil (here symboli=ed by 6oger 7hillingworth) saying, R*hy power is not what it wasG ;ith EodPs help, . shall escape thee nowGS (5C8)" 8immesdalePs con ession redeems his soul and rees him rom the one secret binding the 8evil to him" Ne+t, 8immesdale tore away the Rministerial band rom be ore his breastS(550), revealing a scarlet letter burned into his lesh" )y publicly advertising his sin, he rises above it, orgiving himsel and o icially as!ing Eod and the town or orgiveness" However, the orgiveness he see!s most lies in R T,y little (earl,P said he, eebly'and there was a sweet and gentle smile over his ace, as o a spirit sin!ing into a deep reposeB nay, now that the burden was removed, it seemed almost as i he would be sportive with the child'Tdear little (earl, wilt thou !iss me nowQ *hou wouldst not, yonder, in the orestG )ut now thou wiltGP S (551) -s R(earl !issed his lipsUa spell was bro!enS(551) and his sin was orgiven" -rthur 8immesdale inally dies in a Rtriumphant ignominyS where all have orgiven him, including himsel " .n the inal scene, 8immesdale overcomes the grip o (uritanism and turns directly to Eod" R;ith EodPs help, . will escape thee now,S he says to 7hillingworth" .n act, he does escape %atan, commending himsel into the hands o grace" 8immesdale inally wins his battle against evil" He aces Eod and dies with an open conscience, !nowing o his salvation and reedom rom sin"