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The Scarlet Letter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne

What causes people to pursue choices with guaranteed negative outcomes?

While reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I thought why is it difficult to admit to an action? It took 7 years for Dimmesdale to admit that he is Pearl's father. This lead me to my essential question of what causes people to pursue a negative action.


After reading many articles, I found an article that gave me two different answers to my question. "The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Effects of Sin on the Mind, Body, and Soul," by Nicole Smith wrote an article that helped me understand the answer to my question. The article explains how humans naturally think of how another person views them. People care about the way they are viewed because they want it to be positive. Hester or Dimmesdale possibly thought that the other would no longer love them if they did not show affection to each other. This, potentially, could have pushed them to making an unwise decision.

sinful nature

The other argument is sinful nature, and how it can damage one's life. Dimmesdale, though he is a reverend, is still human and sins. "The outward burden of her sin is man made (the letter itself) whereas his causes increasing deformities on his body and features" (Smith article). It is possible that the nature of sin took over in their relationship to make this decision. Unfortunately, this nature is what causes us to make these unfortunate decisions and is now causing them to pay. Hester and Dimmesdale could have made their decision just by their natural instinct.


Both arguments give valid points in answering what could have caused Hester and Dimmesdale to make a decision knowing where it stands. The answer to this question is that they wanted to prove their love for each other. After they committed the sin, they were still in love and not guilty in the sin, but what the sin made, or in Dimmesdale's case, would make them look.


  • Book: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Spark Publishing, 2009. Print
  • Internet: Smith, Nicole "The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Effects of Sin on the Mind, Body, and Soul" ArticleMyRiad: December 6, 2011. Web. August 28, 2016 URL:

Untitled Slide

The Scarlet Letter was a book that contained many different views and lifestyles than our current day.