Student Question

Based on The Scarlet Letter, does the text suggest we should never show our flaws or mistakes?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the final chapter of the novel, "Conclusion," the narrator says that "in the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike."  Therefore, despite the fact that some people try to live without sin—and some others pretend to do so—as human beings, we are fundamentally flawed and incapable of perfection.  If we were perfect, we would be gods.  The narrator claims that we are all sinners, every one of us, and so we cannot ever be totally without sin or flaw in the eyes of God.

Further, the narrator says,

Among the many morals which press upon us from the poor minister's miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence: "Be true!  Be true!  Be true!  Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!"

In other words, more important than being sinless—which the narrator has already identified as an impossibility—the narrator claims that we should be honest about our sinfulness.  If we are all, at least, honest about our sinful natures (if not our specific sins), then perhaps we will be less likely to judge one another (as the Puritans in the story do) and the guilt we feel for our sins will not be allowed to eat away at us (as Dimmesdale's guilt done to him). 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial