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How Is the Path of Redemption Illustrated in The Scarlet Letter?

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“The Scarlet Letter” is a novel that has intense drama. Hesther Prynne commits adultery with Reverend Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s husband, wants to find the father of Hester’s child. Behind all that drama lies redemption. Based on the novel the path is the path to redemption is difficult, but worth it because it brings internal peace.

An example of someone who went through redemption’s hardship and gained inner peace is Hesther. Everyone in town looked down on her, “society frowned upon her sin”(80). All her friends deserted her, she was“ lonely… and without a friend on earth who dared show himself”(78). The town’s council wanted to confiscate Pearl from her, moreover Pearl was all Hesther had. With all that hardship, Hester considered dying, “I have thought of death…have wished for it, would even have prayed for it”(70). But she endured it all and things around her started getting better. The townspeople started looking up to her, “many people refused to interpret the scarlet ‘A’ by its original signification.They said that it meant ‘Able’”(158). In the beginning it was hard for Hesther, she lost all her friends, and people wanted to take away the only person she had left. But Hesther gritted her teeth and pushed through it. In the end she the townspeople respected her, and she felt was able to find internal peace through a less trouble life.

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On the other hand, Reverend Dimmesdale chose to take the easy way out by not revealing that he was the father. His choice made him feel guilty to the point that he thought punishing himself would redeem him, unfortunately it did not do him any good. Dimmesdale felt the need to confess, yet he did not do it. As time went by he started feeling guilty and tried to get redeemed by his own means: flogging himself, staying up late at night, fasting, and praying. “his too earnest devotion to study, his scrupulous fulfilment of parochial duty, and, more than all, by the fasts and vigils”(116). The results of his method were not what he was hoping for, “the health of Mr. Dimmesdale began to fail”(116). He damaged himself and reaped no seeds, “ he tortured himself, but could not purify himself.”(141). Dimmesdale ends up realizing that he became a “a pollution and a lie”, because he realized that he did not get redeemed at all. Dimmesdale sought redemption, he tried to get it by his own means. In the end he did not get redeemed, and so guilty that he felt like he needed to punish himself. Punishing himself was bad for his health, and made him lose self esteem to the point where he called himself a pollution.

Not seeking redemption at all will trouble you a lot. Chillingworth did not forgive the father and wanted to get revenge. Chillingworth devoted himself to revenge, and to get his hands on the father,”Sooner or later, he must needs be mine!”(73). He went on with his revenge, and later realized what he had become, “And what am I now?…A fiend!”(169) When Chillingworth finds out who the father is, he devotes himself to following him wherever he goes and admits it to Dimmesdale “Hadst thou sought the whole earth over…there was no one place so secret…where thou couldst have escaped me.”(249). Choosing revenge over redemption turned Chillingworth into an evil being whose only goal was revenge. He lost some common sense, and would not find inner peace until he got what he wanted.

All three of those characters took different paths regarding redemption. Hesther took the path that brings redemption, and it was hard but worth it in the end. Dimmesdale chose the easy path, it troubled his health and his self esteem. Chillingworth did not seek redemption at all, and it caused him to waste his life chasing one person around.


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