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The issues of guilt, pain, and truth in the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne discusses the issues of guilt, pain, and truth. For many people, it is hard to accept the faults of their own failures. Most do not acknowledge the reality of their lives, and wind up suffering for their mistakes. Guilt and Sin are bad and also cause pain. Hester Prynne endures in agony and pain because of the mistake she made. In the novel, Hester rarely gives up hope. Through her suffering, Hester maintains to keep her dignity. Hester is admired because of her strong will, and her ability to ignore other’s views of her.

In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around at her townspeople and neighbors” (Hawthorne 50). The townspeople had no right to determine Hester’s punishment. God can only make this type of judgment. She also expresses her best qualities when she stands up to Governor Bellingham, and she confronts him about Pearl.

Hester, being proud, headstrong, and confident, faces him successfully and convinces Governor Bellingham into letting her keep Pearl. She is not afraid of much in her life, especially for standing up for her family. She gains knowledge each day of her life and continues to live a fierce life. “This badge hath taught meit daily teaches meit is teaching me at this momentlessons whereof my child may be the wiser and better, albeit they can profit nothing to myself” (112). Hester is much stronger than her partner in adultery, Dimmesdale, who bottles up all his guilt inside, and eventually dies from it.

Hester also faces public humiliation throughout her society, which makes everything more difficult to cope with. She takes her punishment without fighting, and is able to continue to live a decent and somewhat of a normal life. She endures all this pain and torment alone, without the support of her family or friends. Hester’s life is never filled with joy. However, she remains compassionate towards the townspeople. She devotes her life to helping them and making her appearance more kind. Hester is still and will always be an outcast, which makes her life very difficult to manage.

Occasionally, Pearl brings joy to Hester’s life. This enables Hester to bare with the guilt, loneliness, and isolation. Hester shows what a loving person she is towards others by helping and caring for them. “Hester’s nature showed itself warm and rich; a well-spring of human tenderness” (148). As a naturally loving person, it is easy to see why she is so devoted to Dimmesdale. The fact that Hester feels his pain so deeply is why she becomes so respectable. Hester shows her love and loyalty towards others, when she finds the courage to confront Roger Chillingworth about Dimmesdale.

From this confrontation, she finds peace within herself by revealing to them the truth. Hester’s will power and self-respect towards herself changes towards the end of the novel. Again, she is standing up for the man she loves. She also becomes more trusting in herself. The torture of daily shame cleanses the soul. Hester is a very plain and simple woman and represents many different things to different people. She is a very strong woman with a lot of compassion and takes the hand that has been dealt to her and comes out a winner in the end.

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