The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The idea of forgiveness comes up throughout The Scarlet Letter. What does Hawthorne seem to be saying about forgiveness?

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There are several messages sent by Hawthorne on this subject.

When Dimmesdale forgives Hester, he also forgives himself for the tortures under which he enslaved himself in order to conceal his true feelings. This was an act of both love and liberation on his part.

Hester similarly forgives herself and Dimmesdale even though he denied her and basically abandoned her, and she brings forward the famous words "“Thou shalt forgive me! Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive!”

In addition to this, Dimmesdale brings forward the paradigm that Chillingworth is actually the true sinner out of the three, because something done out of evil and in a premeditated course is worst than something done out of passion. Hence, he does blame someone, the true person who does harm, and he begins there to try and re-make his life.

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