Theme Of Forgiveness In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1370 words - 6 pages

Theme of Forgiveness in The Scarlet Letter


"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 it's generosity."

The Scarlet Letter (156)


       One of themes that Hawthorne conveys in The Scarlet Letter is that society is more willing to forgive people who ask for forgiveness with humility and generosity than those who demanded it as a right. This theme was conveys using Hester Prynne, a young women who committed adultery. This was ...view middle of the document...

Likewise, it was there to ensure that such a crime would not again befell upon their Puritan community. 


" "Drink, then," replied he, still with the same cold composure. "Dost thou know me so little, Hester Prynne? Are my purposes wont to be so shallow? Even if I imagine a scheme of vengeance, what could I do better for my object than to let thee live-than to give thee medicines against all harm and peril of life so that this burning Shame may still blaze upon thy bosom?"(78).  Hester's Husband like everyone else in the town wanted Hester to feel hurt, guilty for what she had done.   The scarlet letter on her bosom had become her burden that she had to carry with her everyday.  Whenever Hester would go into town the children there would ridicule her constantly, and also throw objects at her because of the scarlet letter that she wore.  The scarlet letter was not only a constant reminder to Hester of what she had done but also what she has and will keep going through because of her action. 


Because of her crime and the scarlet letter being place on her bosom, Hester became secluded from the other people in her society.  "Who had been familiarly acquainted with Hester Prynne, were now impress as if they beheld her for the first time was the Scarlet Letter, so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom.  It had the effect of a spell taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity and enclosing her in a sphere by herself."(61).  She became a lonely person; Her only company, her daughter the child who was the product of her sin.  The scarlet letter is the burden that Hester has to carry everyday of her life, and the symbol, which secluded her from any other human being.


      "... With the hot, midday sun burning down upon her face and lighting up its shame, with the scarlet letter token of infamy on her breast..."(69).  Every time, Hester saw or felt the present of the scarlet letter upon her bosoms it always brought her shame.  When the letter had first been place upon her bosom, Hester's first reaction was she wanted to covered it with her infant "in a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame could poorly serve to hide another..."(61).   At first she wanted to hide the scarlet letter with the infant but realized that the infant was well a symbol of her crime. "When strangers looked curiously at the scarlet -and none ever failed to do so-they branded it afresh into Hester's soul; so that, often times, she could scarcely refrain, yet always did refrain, from covering the symbol with her hand."(89). The symbol had indeed, fulfilled its purpose in making Hester ashamed.


       " Such helpfulness was found in her-so much power to do and power to...

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