In the sixteenth century. Puritans immigrated to America from Great Britain in order to get away spiritual persecution. and by the mid seventeenth century they had erected a good established society based on their theological beliefs. The Puritan faith was one of asceticism and geared towards religious devotedness instead than secular ownerships. Puritans followed stiff Torahs which seldom changed with clip. They besides had small tolerance for anyone who broke these Torahs. Persons who did go against these Torahs nevertheless. faced penalty on assorted degrees and would hold to turn out their penitence to themselves and society. The Scarlet Letter. set in mid seventeenth century Boston. portrays such signifiers of penitence from two positions. The writer. Nathaniel Hawthorne. constructs the secret plan to go around around the journey of penitence of two characters: Hester Prynne and Rev. Dimmesdale. Both characters have committed the profane wickedness of criminal conversation together. but merely Hester has been punished for it. whereas Dimmesdale has yet to be discovered for his engagement in the misbehavior.
Hester’s terrible penalty is to transport the ageless load of the vermilion missive A. a symbol that apprises everyone of her position as an fornicator. and outcasts her from the remainder of society. Even though she is shunned by society. Hester still manages to commit Acts of the Apostless of repentance to expiate for her wickedness. However. Hester is non the lone character who seeks penitence ; Rev. Dimmesdale self-inflicts penalty as a signifier of repentance. Throughout the novel. both characters strive to accomplish true penitence. a feeling of compunction which comes from the psyche. Equally committed as they are to expiating for their wickedness. neither Hester nor Dimmesdale genuinely of all time make the province of penitence. Their failure to accomplish true penitence can be perceived through their similar ends of repentance and their different signifiers of penalty.
Through the class of the novel. Hawthorne invariably evinces analogues and similiarities between the journeys of repentance of both Hester and Dimmesdale. Both journeys for penitence terminal in the same topographic point ; failure to experience compunction for their wickedness. In chapter 17. Hawthorne eventually brings Hester and Dimmesdale together in an confidant puting since their committing of criminal conversation. A actual and metaphorical symbol of their parallel journey. The lovers meet up in the wood. a dark topographic point symbolic of immorality. to talk in private for the first clip in old ages about their programs for the hereafter. Throughout the novel the reader has been able to track the Acts of the Apostless of repentance. nevertheless. it has ne’er been obviously stated that these Acts of the Apostless of repentance have been in vain and no true penitence has come from them. Hawthorne decides that in this chapter both characters will blatantly province their failure to repent. In this chapter. Hester states to Dimmesdale. “What we did had a consecration of its own” ( 203 ) .
Hester has non merely failed to atone at this point. but she has besides stated that their criminal conversation has had a valid intent. Due to the fact that Pearl has come out of their fornication. she has non wronged in saying this but. any person who has genuinely repented for their action would be excessively contrite to warrant their misbehavior. Literary critic. Samuel Chase Coale. summarizes Hester’s vain journey for penitence by composing that “her public show of sorrow and repentance… is in world a hollow rite. non echt penitence” ( Coale 37 ) .
In analogue. Dimmesdale admits his deficiency of sorrow for his criminal conversation with Hester. Of the two. Dimmesdale journey has been the most strict in repentance. yet. like Hester. his journey of repentance has ended in failure. He openly admits. “Of repentance. I have had adequate! Of repentance. there has been none! ” ( 200 ) . Dimmesdale does non experience the least spot regretful for his wickedness with Hester. Hawthorne parallels their journey for the end of penitence for 17 chapters. until he eventually brings about their ultimate failure. This length of clip allowed the reader to see two similar. coincident journeys which finally ends literally and metaphorically in one topographic point. failure in the wood. a topographic point of immorality. wickedness. and insincere repentance.
Although both Hester and Dimmesdale have had a similiar end of true penitence. the inside informations of their journey are wholly different. Hawthorne structures the novel like this for assorted ground. the most obvious being redundancy. If Hawthorne had made Dimmesdale’s and Hester’s journey precisely likewise. the narrative would look highly excess and would lose the involvement of the reader. On the other manus. Hawthorne creates this contrast in their journeys in order to set up some societal commentary. He establishes a journey of repentance through two different struggles. individual vs. society and individual vs. ego. Hester repentance. of class. is established through individual vs. society. “Spatial relationships. those based on the arrangement of images within the text. uncover a set of constructions and codifications that embody the societal organisation of a community. both in footings of its political orientation and its civilization. How one is seen and for what reasons–and what is being seen–suggest the nature of societal powers at work in early Boston.
Therefore when Hester emerges from the prison to stand “fully revealed” ( 52 ) before the crowd. she is traveling from enclosed darkness to open sunlight. from the present enclosure of her offense into the public regard that has branded her a felon. Hawthorne has made so much of the prison to get down with. nevertheless. that no affair how cherished “the unfastened air” now seems. to step from that prison and mount the scaffold is to travel from one enclosed infinite to another. each underscored by “the whole blue badness of the Puritanic codification of law” ( 52 ) as embodied in the people and the magistrates who fasten their “thousand unrelenting eyes” ( 57 ) upon her. Their eyes go our eyes. for we as readers are as interested in detecting the spectacle. in order to understand precisely what is traveling on. as they are. although unlike us they do so assured of justness in their regard. ” In contrast. Dimmesdale. faces internal struggle in the signifier of individual vs. ego. He self inflicts anguish as a signifier of his repentance in an effort to repent.
Both supporter. Hester and Dimmesdale have failed to make a similar end of true penitence through really distinguishable journeys.