Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter shows very plainly the theme of forgiveness and how it affects people differently

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter shows very plainly the theme of forgiveness and how it affects people differently. Hester Prynne, an adulterous woman and a convicted sinner, is judged for her actions and forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her clothing as a punishment. This action taken by the church leaders is so that Hester may never forget her sin, and that they may never forgive her. The law and religion are tightly woven, and a sin such as adultery may not always be pardoned by the Puritan leaders. So, in response to this unforgivable act, the government leaders chose to publicly mark her with an A so that she will be set apart from the society around her. The Puritan leaders did not know at the time that they, in fact, were also going against the law of God. The Bible talks about forgiveness in that we should forgive others, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt. 18:22; NIV). They were clear on the fact that they did not want Hester to be pardoned for her sin, but eventually she found forgiveness in herself and from the townspeople who admired her talents.
Hester’s life was dramatically altered by her sin, because now she had her child to take care of- a daughter named Pearl. Hawthorne explains in detail how Hester sees Pearl as a daily reminder of her sinful nature. “God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonored bosom,” (Hawthorne 61). Hester manages to find a way to provide for herself and Pearl through a career as a seamstress. Her talent is so proficient that people within the community forgive the scarlet letter because of a job well done. She is a help to those around her, because she knew what it was like to be in a terrible situation as well. Hester does her best to work for a new identity not involving her past sin, and by doing so she and Pearl are once again accepted by the townspeople.
Sin’s consequences affect the life of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale as well. Being a devout Christian and a respected church leader, he is the last person anyone would expect to be involved in such an immorality as adultery. Also, being the man in love with Hester, he is caught in a dilemma that eventually costs him his sanity and his life. When Hester is asked to reveal the father of her child, Dimmesdale is relieved to see that she remains silent on his behalf. The reverend, knowing that he will also be considered an outcast if he openly confesses, keeps his sin inside himself. As the story progresses, he is filled with the stigma of not just the original sin, but from not taking any opportunities to confess. Dimmesdale’s health quickly deteriorates, and he finds himself mentally unstable. Because of his occupation, the reverend must be regarded as holy and pure, so he refuses to declare Pearl as his child. From that moment on, his health becomes fatal, and in his final words he finds redemption through a deathbed confession.