Scarlet Letter Appearance versus Reality

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Appearance vs. Reality Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, a dark tale of sin and redemption, centres around the small Puritan community of Boston during the seventeenth century. Things and places in The Scarlet Letter are not always what they seem to be. There are major differences in the appearance of something to the actual meaning and significance it carries. In the middle of the town market is a “... weather-darkened scaffold. . .” (Hawthorne 234) where sinners are …

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…blindly guided by public perception hide themselves in lies and never confront the truth when it is presented. Even while the dying reverend confesses his sin on the scaffold, the townspeople deny “ . . . his dying words acknowledged, nor even remotely implied . . . the slightest connection, on his part, with the guilt for which Hester Prynne [had committed] ...” (241). Hawthorne’s point is clear: there are those who embrace the truth, and those who avoid it at all costs.