An Inconvenient Mercy?

Is there such a thing?

I asked myself that question as I read through chapters 3-5 of Hawthorn’s The Scarlet Letter. Hester, condemned to wear a scarlet “A” (for adultery) on her breast to commemorate the sin she committed, does the unthinkable in the midst of becoming a pariah in her community.

Despite the hypocrisy of her lover, the good Rev. Dimmesdale, and the acidic hatred of her husband Roger Chillingworth, she keeps their secrets for them. Chillingworth does not wish for anyone to know that he is her husband and Dimmesdale is left to his own simmering conscience while Hester and her daughter Pearl endure the shame of Hester’s (and Dimmesdale’s) sin.

Is there mercy in not revealing others’ part in our own sin?


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