How is evil viewed in the novel The Scarlet Letter?

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chicagorilke23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Scarlet Letter evil is viewed in terms of sin. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale committed a sin by consummating their affections and desire for one another. This is scandalous when one considers that Dimmesdale is a young minister in a community which highly regards trust and faith. Hester is married to Chillingworth which explains why she is at the scaffold at the beginning of the story. She is an adulteress and Pearl is the product of the sinful act. The scarlet letter "A" she wears serves as a further punishment for her crime. She is a marked woman that is of evil nature according to most; she could not control or thwart off the evil inside of her.

Meanwhile, Dimmesdale does not reveal any apparent sign of his part in this adulterous act. However, it can be argued that his sermons and his lack of physical strength help to illustrate how he is affected by the crime he committed. His sermons are powerful and passionate which reflect his strong desire for some kind of peace and absolution. Dimmesdale's weakness is a sign of how his heart and health reflect the burden of an invisible scarlet letter "A." Just as the scarlet letter burns into the identity of Hester each time she wears it upon her chest in public, so does Dimmesdale's mental, invisible letter burn into his psyche. This act burns into him the impact his sin has had on not only his life, but on the lives of Hester and Pearl.

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The Scarlet Letter

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