The Scarlet Letter centers round the consequences of sin, especially shame and guilt. It is to be
noted that the sin of adultery is, in itself, not the subject matter of the novel. In fact, the novel
opens after the sin has been committed and Pearl, the offspring of the sinful, but natural, union is
three months old. As Hawthorne himself states in the opening chapter, the novel is about human
weakness and its resulting sorrow.
Hawthornes focus of attention is the effect the sin has on Hester and Dimmesdale. They
constantly suffer from shame and guilt throughout the novel. Both of them lead joyless lives.
Dimmesdale, however, suffers much more intensely than Hester.
Hester is made to publicly acknowledge her sin. A scarlet letter “A” is permanently placed on her
dress to symbolize her adultery, and she is made to stand on the scaffold with her baby for
several hours of public humiliation. She becomes a social outcast of the Puritan society and lives
in isolation on the outskirts of town. Pearl, her lively and uncontrollable daughter, is the daily
living proof of Hesters sin. With pride, she dresses her daughter in brightly colored clothing and
holds her on
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