At the time no one knew that he was the man he charged her to tell, but this couple sets the perfect scenario for a common debate. Which is more influential in a person’s life, public or private guilt? Hester experienced public guilt while Arthur suffered private guilt and both of them had effects on all aspects of their life. Nathaniel Hawthorne presents this problem using the long-term and short-term effects of such a sin as adultery in a community that strives to be a community that follows the Word of God.
Hester Prone, the adulteress that was convicted and punished biblically, anteed the ridicule in a peculiar way that would have made the authorities of that very upset. With being forced to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her clothing for the rest of her life, she chose to wear the letter with pride and confidence. She walked down the streets of early Boston with pride in something that wasn’t prideful. “No lie hung over her head. Society had heard her story, and had done its worst. (Lording, 4) The community tried everything in their power to make her feel worthless and at times she did but she held her pride.
After many years the letter had become a symbol of military, the people began to respect Hester for the letter. The letter did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to accomplish. The public humiliation had an effect on Hester but not quite what it could have done to her life. Arthur Timescale, the beloved pastor of a town striving after the Lord who performs adultery with the beautiful Hester Prone, is forced into a much different form of punishment. The community almost dollied this man for how godly he was. He knew that what he had done and how wrong it was and he lived his life in private torture.
He felt the guilt of his sin for years after the sin was committed. He whipped himself and even scorched his own letter “A” on his chest. He preached sermons on guilt and the oblivious community over-looked it. He suffered for long seven years while Hester lived an almost normal life. He lived his life in private infamy and public utilization, which had more of an impact on his life overall than Hester situation. The Scarlet Letter leaves the reader with a solid debate on whether private or public guilt has more of an effect on the sinner’s daily life.
Hester lived a hard few ears but the scarlet letter later became a sin of respect and she could live a half-way normal life past that. Arthur Timescale, lived in private infamy, every waking moment he lived the guilt of his sin. It ate away at every aspect of his life. The short- term and long-term effects on the public and private guilt that set in due to adultery were excellently displayed in the Scarlet Letter. Works cited Lording, George B. “Hawthorn’s Scarlet Letter. ” Massachusetts Quarterly Review 3 (1950): 12. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Bantam, 1986.