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What are some examples of redemption in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"?I'm...

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ladyofthestars99 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 25, 2008 at 4:12 AM via web

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What are some examples of redemption in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"?

I'm just looking for the different ways the character's achieved redemption in the book, or symbols/instances Hawthorne used to portray the theme of redemption. I already have a few ideas, but other's opinions and help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks for your time and help!!

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 25, 2008 at 5:23 AM (Answer #1)

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In their judgment against Hester, the town requires her to live in near isolation with her daughter earning a living from her work as a seamstress.  Hester is a very skilled seamstress, therefore, her work brings beauty into the world.  She also uses the money she earns to help the poor, even though they reject her.

Hester loves her daughter, Pearl with great devotion. She earns redemption through her actions, such as her helping the poor, her work as a seamstress to people who otherwise think that she is no better than the devil.  And her great love for her daughter.

Arthur Dimmesdale for a great deal of the story is never identified as Hester's lover, therefore, he bears the burden of remaining silent, according to Hester's lead. 

Reverend Dimmesdale is inspired to preach with even greater passion, knowing full well that he is a sinner.  His passionate sermons are both self-instructive and informative to his congregation.  Through his expression of devotion to his calling, he seeks redemption for his sins.  Arthur wants to confess to being Hester's lover, and finally, he does, unburdening his soul and claiming Pearl as his daughter.

Clearly, a sinner returned to God is worth far more than one who never admits his sin.  So, Arthur, finds redemption in the religion he devotes his life to, and Hester finds redemption in the life she lives in devotion to her child and to the service of other needs.    

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