Ethical Issues In Scarlet Letter

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Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester’s daughter, Pearl, is portrayed as a living scarlet letter. Pearl serves as a breathing reminder to Hester of her everlasting sin. Hester talks about Pearl, “as being of great price- purchased with all she had- her mother’s only treasure!”(6.1). Through her sin, Hester has abandoned everything that was familiar to her when she had Pearl; her reputation, her community, and her own religion. Hester’s crime is looked upon by the community as unforgivable, and by some citizens, as have made deals with the Devil himself. Hester’s reputation amongst the society is completely ravaged by carrying around and keeping her child. As long as Hester has Pearl, the society will…show more content…
Therefore, Hester’s sin does not pass any ethical test of the religious community. By committing the act of adultery, not only is it required that Hester wear the scarlet letter on her chest, but she formally excommunicated herself from the Church. Pearl’s mere existence is a symbol of scandal and disgrace to other characters in The Scarlet Letter. For example, Pearl represents the guilt that Dimmesdale feels because of his sin. As Hester wears the scarlet letter, Dimmsdale remains anonymous to the people of Boston for the majority of the novel. Covertly protected by silence, Dimmsdale’s guilt is private and it begins to consume him to a point of insanity. Dimmsdale realizes that even though he did not have to live through the public degradation that Hester edured, he will ultimately have to face the wrath of God on his judgement day. In contrast to the symbol that Pearl brings despair and guilt to Dimmsdale and Hester, she also brings hope to these two characters, as embodying in the theme of redemption. Dimmsdale redeems himself and receives Pearl’s acceptance by admitting his transgressions to the entire town while atop the scaffold. The final scaffold scene serves as a catharsis for the novel, as Dimmsdale admits to

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