What effects the salvations of the major characters respectively in The Scarlet Letter? Major characters = Hester, Rev. Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Pearl

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's examination of the psychological effects of sin and indictment of Puritanism in The Scarlet Letter provides much insight into the human soul.  This seminal work of Hawthorne's depicts both the inner turmoils as well as the external conflicts involved in a Puritan community where sin has no forgiveness. Yet, the main characters do find redemption for their iniquities. 

Hester Prynne

Set as an example to others of the penalties for sin against Puritan law, Hester Prynne is publicly shamed and made to wear a scarlet symbol of her adultery.  Ironically, however, it is the Catholic/Anglican theology, from which the Puritans revolted, with its precept of redeeming grace from good works as atonement for sin which effects Hester's salvation. For, despite her being marked as a sinner and ostracized from the community, Hester's acts of Christian charity in tending the ill and dying are what earn her grace and the acceptance of many in the Puritan community as, with the unsubstantive nature of symbols, they come to perceive the symbolic A as representative of positive connotations of "Angel" or "Able."

Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale

Forced by his unforgiving Puritanism to hide his secret sin of adultery in his heart, the Reverend Dimmesdale's grievous guilt tortures his soul to the extent that his sin at last reveals itself physically in illness and the stigmata of the symbol of adultery upon his own chest (ironically, stigmata is another documented manifestation of Catholicism ). And, it is only from confession--another facet of the "Papists"--that the minister's soul is redeemed.


As the incarnation of Hester's sin...

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