Scarlet Letter Close Analysis Outline
Evil can seep into even the most purest of people
Sin consumes the lives of people and unless it is confessed, there will never be any peace
Evil rots purity because it causes great suffering
Evil can be defeated with acceptance and confession of the truth
Acceptance and confession of the truth can lead a person to become better
Intro: Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the theme of sin and the nature of evil in The Scarlet Letter. In this novel, Hawthorne writes about two characters, Hester and Dimmesdale, and their struggle with sin and evil. They constantly face suffering whether internal or external because of guilt and the ostracizing of the townspeople.
Thesis: Although sin and evilness are powerful enough to cause great suffering in life, the acceptance and confession of truth can triumph over evil.
Topic Sentence: Confessing sin is important because it relieves a great burden.
I. “Ministerial” band is revealed to the public (confession of his sin to the public)
a) Does it with a convulsive motion to show that there is nervousness (diction, imagery)
i. The act of confessing is nowhere near easy, but it is necessary in order to prevent greater suffering
b) Ministerial is defined as an act done after confirming a current state in obedience without personal judgment (diction)
i. Shows that Dimmesdale knew he was going to die so he wanted to confess ii. Did not want to suffer anymore because death was approaching him iii. Shows that he did not want to be suffering until death
II. Hawthorne did not indicate what was revealed
a) Said it was irreverent to describe what it was
i. Irreverent means disrespectful (diction, syntax) ii. Hawthorne did not want the focus to be shifted iii. Shows that Hawthorne wants the emphasis on the act of confessing rather than the confession itself
Topic Sentence: Additionally, confessing sin releases guilt and gives an individual a sense of pride because it is so rarely done.
I. The townspeople were appalled by the actions of Dimmesdale
a) The people were “horror-stricken” with the revelation (diction)
i. The amount of shock indicates that the community does not see confession of sin frequently
b) The gaze was on Dimmesdale
i. Shows that the complete focus should be on Dimmesdale’s actions ii. Gaze indicates the intensity of the stares at Dimmesdale (diction)
c) Ghastly Miracle (diction)
i. Miracle is defined as the fulfillment of spiritual law which was achieved when Dimmesdale confessed his sin ii. Ghastly means great horror or fear iii. Shows that the townspeople fear confessing their sins. Maybe because of judgment and punishment
II. Although the minister is in pain, he feels successful and relieved
a) Currently feeling a “crisis of acutest pain” while feeling a “flush of triumph” (diction)
i. Acutest indicates that Dimmesdale is in need of serious attention because his pain his almost unbearable ii. A flush indicates a fresh and vigorous state iii. The juxtaposition of these two states shows that even though Dimmesdale is physically weak, he is emotionally and spiritually revived
III. He won a victory
a) “Triumph” and “won a victory” shows that there was a battle between Dimmesdale and sin
i. Finally won the battle against sin because he was able to rid himself of guilt and obtain peace
Topic Sentence: Freedom of sin and evilness is through confession of sin.
I. Dimmesdale sank down on the scaffold while Chillingworth knelt down
a) The syntax provides more emphasis on the word “down” (diction, ambiguity)
i. In the context of Dimmesdale, “down he sank” refers to his low quality in his condition; Dimmesdale is about to die ii. He can die peacefully because he has now accepted the truth and relieved himself of his suffering
b) Chillingworth kneeling down has a different context
i. Chillingworth kneeling down refers to his defeat in his life goal ii. Dimmesdale is dying and Chillingworth no longer has