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The Infliction or Imposition of a Penalty

Essay by   •  September 15, 2012  •  Essay  •  661 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,501 Views

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The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense, according to google dictionary this defines the word punishment. What a punishment really is lies in the eyes of the beholder. Soceity perceives to have certain versions of what would really inflict some intolerable sense of sorrow or remorse. Arthur Dimmesdale has went through more external and internal distress then one Hester Prynne. This man has not only felt unbearable and immense amounts of guilt, but has went through physical pain admitted by his very own hand, and well Hester Prynne, she's been long forgiven and doesn't have the burdensome sin on her back any longer.

Certainly Hester Prynne has endured her share of punishment for the sin she and the young minister both committed. But alas Hester Prynne had no choice but to come forth in the crime of adultery when she grew pregnant with her young daughter Pearl. The townsfolk have forgiven the simple women of her sin and have even said the following of her; "Such helpfulness was found in her- so much power to do and power to sympathize- that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by it's original signification. They said that it meant able, so strong was Hester Prynne with a women's strength,"(Hawthorne 325). Hester had been arguably glorified in later years after the initial ''A'' punishment she had received. If "A" was to mean able and to stand for her strength then exactly what kind of punishment was that? How awful could it be to have attributes conversated about around town?

Undoubtedly Hester as well as Dimmesdale has felt guilt from the shameful and immoral sin. But as to who it has weighed a greater load upon well it is clear the minister. As a man of god, the day in and day out hypocrisy is consuming him entirely. He states, "Were I an atheist a man devoid of conscience- a wretch with coarse and brutal instincts- I might have found peace, long ere now"(381). Hester has taken a breath of fresh air, in that the sin she committed is out in the open for all to see, she can repent and be forgiven. On the other hand Dimmesdale has this eating away at him with no single person he might confide in, he keeps it all trapped inside his poor heavy heart.

Furthermore, Dimmesdale feels so much guilt he takes the action of inflicting punishment upon himself using a whip. Hester merely had to wear the letter "A" on all of her clothing which was later a symbol in which people praised her, and also this punishment was required of her. No one verbalizes to Dimmesdale that he must whip himself causing him massive amounts of physical pain. He chooses to make himself suffer because he feels so inconceivably dreadful. In the text it states, " No eye could see him, save that ever- wakeful one which had seen him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge"(295). It is said people show their

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