All human beings will, at some point carry some amount of guilt with them. Whether they could have prevented what happened or not, humans tend to carry guilt. Hester Prynne will forever carry the guilt of committing adultery. This is shown when Hawthorne writes, Here, there was the taint of deepest sin in the most sacred quality of human life (53). In his novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne writes about sin and hypocrisy by describing the trials and tribulations of Hester Prynne.
Hawthorne wants the readers of his book to dig deeper into their own thoughts and beliefs and examine if they themselves are hypocritical in daily life. Hester shows throughout the book that she carries a great deal of guilt. Hester refuses to give the name of her lover in an attempt to shield him from her grief. She shows this early in the book when she says, I will not speak (64). She also tries to conceal the name of Pearl s father to shield him from guilt. Hester tells the crowd at the scaffold that her child will not know her father when she says,
And my child must seek a heavenly Father; she shall never know an earthly one! (64). Hester bears her guilt in a variety of ways. First she pampers her only treasure, Pearl. She wants the focus of peoples attention to be on Pearl, which she shows when the story states Her mother, with a morbid purpose, that may be better understood hereafter, had bought the richest tissues that could be procured, and allowed her imaginative faculty its full play in the arrangement and decoration of the dresses which the child wore, before the public eye. 2). Hester helps the poor in an attempt to help pay back society for her sin.
The story says, To Hester Prynne it might have been a mode of expressing ,and therefore soothing, the passion of her life. (85) This quote shows her grief is being express in the clothing she makes. By the end of the story, its clear that Hester, through her acts and accomplishments has redeemed herself and is now saved from eternal pain in hell. She had to face many harsh people in her town that would buy her clothes but labeled her as a terrible person.
Hester is saved because she served her long term in prison, served her lifetime term with the scarlet letter upon her breast, and helped society through her wisdom and contributions. Hester was saved due to her advanced parenting techniques that molded Pearl into a beautiful and well raised young lady. Hester learns from her mistakes and lets Pearl figure things out with a guiding hand always behind her This idea was an unheard of one for its time but Pearl is proof of its success.
Nathaniel Hawthorne s novel The Scarlet Letter was a story meant to have people look deeper into the way we treat each other. Hawthorne s goal was to open peoples eyes to the evil that lurks within the most righteous of people and to open some peoples eyes to their own hypocrisy. Hester Prynne, throughout the story shows that she is harboring a lot of built up inner guilt, that she never lets go of. Hester, through her acts of kindness, is saved from eternal damnation in hell.