“Original sin”: is the Puritan belief that all sin developed from women due to the fact that Eve, the first woman, made the first sin by giving in to temptation and offering it to men. This sin made the belief that all children created are a sinner and should take responsibility for the act of Adam and Eve. In the book, The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne uses imagery, symbolism, and the belief in “original sin” to criticize how women are not seen as equals to men.
The Imagery in The Scarlet Letter portrays what a strong character Hester had to be and what he had to go through to be able to withstand herself. Her own daughter, she had to withstand from the community and her loved ones that she felt betrayed by. There’s imagery in the way she explains the custom house and how she sees it and the people that she knows that are around there, she explains the smell surrounding her as she’s walking around town and how everything is and how it affects her.
It’s like if she’s distant, in another world, but she’s actually just looking around and seeing the town and what brought her to the point that she is right now. Hawthorne uses the Rose Bush by the prison door as an image of sympathy. The rose bush shows something that is fragile and vulnerable to the human eye. Its an act of empathy as Hawthorne says “offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.
Hawthorne uses nature to create images about humans or to humans, he shows that nature is benevolent to humans than humans are to humans. There are several examples of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter, her own daughter is an example of symbolism. Pearl’s name shows the purification that Hester wants Pearl to have in her life and the lifestyle she wishes Pearl could have, but the town sees her as the devil’s child due to the fact that the child has no father and has a sinful mother and she was not just a child, she was different.
Pearl’s name also symbolizes a bible quote (“Gospel of Matthew: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46”) The biblical verse shows that Hester gave up everything to Pearl, she was her “punishment” but yet she was also her “happiness” and Pearl is the one who kept her alive. As the novel goes on Hester starts to embrace the letter” A” that,s sewn onto her which at that point stood for Adultery.
She goes through stages throughout the book. At first she feels shame when walking through the prison door and the prison door symbolizes a society that does not realize their own mistakes, but imprisons others feeling better about their own sins, doings, and afflictions. Then as she walks through the crowds vociferate and hears the town’s gossip and feels the wrath of the Puritan society, she feels offended when the people want to take Pearl away from her, she builds up emotional intensity by expressing how she feels about Pearl and the society that’s surrounding her.
After many battles and challenges Hester feels she has the Ability to go on and look past all that’s happened to her and deal with whatever comes her way her own way. The townsmen do not trust in Hester and the men would tuck away their wives and children petrified that women would go astray(pg47) by the effect that Hester had on the town. In this time period, women could no wrong for they already in sin by having children. But the men could do as they please, because they were men and men controlled the household and had the upper hand on what the family did and what happened within the family.
The town’s women slowly start to see the discriminatory ways of men and try to retaliate in their own way and then feel guilty about their sin and go to Hester to ask how she got through it all and Hester comforts them and the society starts to slowly forgive her and sees that she’s not the only one to make mistakes, that all make mistakes and that they all sin. The town saw her as an angel to help other people out. The belief of original sin controls the story and channels the story through.
The act of Adam and Eve continuously repeats throughout the story multiple times, in a discreet way. The belief of original sin in the book makes Pearl, any children, any Women seems like they’re a sin and that the Puritans will give their forgiveness for the sin of Adam and Eve since they are the example of temptation and the wrong that women has done towards men. But what the original sin does imply in the Puritan belief is that it also men’s fault for giving in to the seduction brought on by women. The Puritan does blame Adam, but not as much as Eve.
The Puritans blame Adam for every child that is going to be born after Adam and Eve because every child conceived is a sin because Women are a sin in the Puritan belief. Women are vulnerable, tempted, and do not have a brain of their own to think. And that man should be in charge of the household and everything possible. The original sin affects how everybody sees Hester even though they have all sinned before they believe that no sin would compare to Hester’s sin and that Hester ought to be but distant from all the shame that she’s created for the community and for all the women to not be affected by her strong influence.
Hawthorne beautifully exploits the original sin and the Puritan ways and beliefs. Hawthorne proves that men believed that women did all wrong and that they were the only ones who could do wrong and that even if the men sinned, their god would forgive them since they are not women and do not give into seduction, but is offered temptation throughout the book which is the Puritan belief that all women are sinners and that men are here to redeem them and make them better people and keep them elsewhere from people like Hester who might nfluence their behavior and reject gender roles and refuse suppressing anymore and to come up and be better than what men think women are. Men suppressed them and women allowed it until the scarlet letter came along and demonstrates what the letter “A” truly meant. “The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. “(pg. 188)