Which Underlying Theme Of The Scarlet Letter Is Evident In This Passage?

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Pearl, the product of two people’s lack of obedience towards the community’s rules, is a constant reminder to both Hester and Timescale of their wrongdoings and deviant behavior. Both Hester Prying and Arthur Timescale suffer a sense of responsibility for their actions, however, their punishments are handled in different manners, one through public humiliation, and the other through secret guilt and shame.

As for public humiliation, Hester Prying Is the person who must endure all of the tortures which society inflicts on her as punishment for her confession for committing adultery. On the other hand, however, Arthur Timescale continues to suffer, quietly experiencing personal burdens and main that he must keep quiet to conceal his identity as Hester lover and Pearl’s father. Hester Prying and Arthur Timescale undergo very different ways of dealing with the guilt from their crime. UT Pearl Prying is one of the main causes of Hester and Timescale being unable to move past their sin. Pearl, among other things, is a constant reminder to the Bostonian community of Hester sinful behavior, while she Is also a steady symbol to Arthur Timescale of the secret shame that he Is holding inside himself, while he lets Hester take the blame alone. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses character throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, to present a contradicting theme between public disgrace and suffering in solitude.

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Hester Prying Is a representation of guilt throughout the Puritan society and is shown living and enduring a life of an outcast, as she is tortured by and alienated from her community. Once Hester resorted to adultery and defied the rules by betraying her husband, she became a woman of guilt and shame. Hester did, however, confess to her sin and is thus able to experience her punishment and guilt of wrongdoing openly and through public humiliation versus the torturous emotion of keeping a secret, which is suffered by her partner in crime, who refuses to own up to his wrongdoing.

Guilt in the community, a place of “people amongst whom religion and law were almost Identical, and in whose character both were so thoroughly interfered, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline were alike made vulnerable and awful” (35), can be seen In the form of public humiliation and cultural ostracism. Hester has a committed a crime so bad that the typical penalty would be death, “but, in their [the fathers of the town] great mercy and tenderness of heart, they have doomed Mistress Prying to stand only a space of three hours on life, to wear a mark of shame upon her bosom (43). Hester is thus forced to feel much lament for her action, but she must no longer live with the secret, as to be tortured internally and suffer self-inflicted pain. Hester guilt can be shown in the form of public disgrace and embarrassment as she must stand on the scaffold for three hours, and spent some given amount of time in the town prison. Hester is obligated to be an outcast from the community of Boston and become a “general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point [their finger], and in which they might vivify and embody their images of women’s frailty and sinful passion. Hush the young and pure would be taught to look at her, as the figure, the body, the reality of sin (54). ” Though she has confessed herself, she is not completely free of societal punishment; however, she is free of the shame that comes with hiding a secret as big as lechery from the rest of the world, and she is eventually able to lead lilt-free life in Boston. Hester punishment comes after the revelation of her secret, while Damselfly’s chastisement comes during battle with his conscience.

Arthur Timescale, a noble and dignified town minister, who is also the father of Pearl Prying, must continue to live hiding the fact that he is indeed guilty of adultery, crime punishable by death and deeply frowned upon by the Puritan society. Instead of admitting to his misbehaver, he keeps his relationship with Hester to himself, which only causes him much self-inflicted torture and a great burden to bear. While Hester suffers from embarrassment through the community, Timescale resorts to internal punishment, or a way of attempting to relief himself from his conscience of misconduct without losing his reputation and status in society.

Timescale dealt with “an unspeakable misery of life so false as his, that it steals the pith and substance out of whatever realities there are around us (100)”. These feelings grow to such a size that the poor minister is unable to cope with the falsity of his true identity, such that he takes action into his own hands and succumbs to hysterical abuse. “Walking in the shadow of a dream, as it were, and perhaps actually under the influence of a species of somnambulism, Mr.. Timescale reached the spot, where now, so long since, Hester Prying had lived through her first hour of public ignominy (101). At this location, Timescale proceeded to shriek and inflict pain on himself so that he might know the pain which is engulfing Hester, and free himself from the shame that is consuming his life. During his time on the scaffold, Timescale “beheld there the appearance of an immense letter, -the letter A, – raked out in lines of dull red (107). ” Timescale took the latterly recognized meteor, to be a symbol for adultery the crime of which he was guilty, and henceforth began to torture himself so greatly that his physiological state deteriorated.

Following this scene of pain, Timescale met Hester Prying in the forest, where, upon hearing the news that Roger Chlorinating is actually Hester first husband, proceeded to try to blame Hester for the shame that he is enduring. “O Hester Prying, thou little, little knows all the horror of this thing! And the shame! -the indelicacy! – the horrible ugliness of this exposure of a sick and guilty heart to the very eye that would gloat over it! Woman, woman, thou art accountable for this! I cannot forgive thee (133)! Irish does not and cannot heal his feeling of deep remorse and heartache from his conscience awareness of his terrible and unlawful actions. Damselfly’s shame townspeople, little to their knowledge of his committed crime. “At every step he was incited to do some strange, wild, wicked thing or other, with a sense that it would be at once involuntary and intentional (149). ” Timescale progresses “uttering certain alehouses suggestions (149)” to honorable men such as a passing deacon, and the innocent children of the town.

Timescale is so consumed with shame that it has torn him apart and left him with nothing but an unknown being acting rashly to hide his true identity. Pearl Prying, the love child and product of Hester and Damselfly’s sin, is a continual reminder of the criminal action committed by the two adulterers. For example, Pearl reminds Hester that she can never be anything more than a lecher with Pearl in her life, because she brought communal punishment upon herself and must now live with present and future consequences.

Pearl took some green eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother’s. A letter, -the letter A, – but freshly green, instead of scarlet (122)! ” This shows that Hester cannot escape the fact that Pearl is a product of wrongdoing because it has even been embedded in Pearl’s head, a future generation, that she is only alive because of a mistake committed by her mother. Pearl is also aware of details that tell of Hester bad actions, such as the fact that sunshine does not surround Hester, like it should, due o the letter on her bosom, representing her crime. Mother, the sunshine does not love you. It runs away and hides itself because it is afraid of something on your bosom (126). ” Pearl also acts as a reminder and burden to Timescale, who is trying to keep quiet about his relation to Hester and Pearl Prying. For instance, after the meeting of Hester and Timescale in the forest, Pearl proceeds to ask, “Will he go back with us, hand in hand, we three together into the town (145)? ” But Timescale must refuse, as he still suffers from much internal shame about his crime.

Pearl is a symbol for the agitator which further stirs reminders of Hester days of public humiliation and Damselfly’s battle with himself over the secret he is keeping within. In conclusion, the act of admitting to a crime as opposed to the punishment that comes with hiding the crime show how public humiliation can turn out to be much better than harboring an intimate detail from the rest of the world in the novel, The Scarlet Letter. Hester suffers greatly from public harassment, however, this is temporary and an open communal punishment for her unlawful sin is better Han living with a secret and creating a torturous battle within.

She has little to do with internal shame because she has come clean about her actions and is willing to take whatever consequences are thrown her way. On the contrary, Arthur Timescale must live with an internal burden which heavily weighs on him physically, mentally, and emotionally, and extracts a shameful feeling due to a contained secret that he tries to rid himself of before it escapes and becomes public knowledge. Both Hester and Timescale have committed adultery, but their punishments are issued in two very different ways.

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Which Underlying Theme Of The Scarlet Letter Is Evident In This Passage?. (2018, Feb 11). Retrieved from


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