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The Abyss in American Novels

He escapes from this "civilization" through a series of circumstances which return him to the freedom he had once known, and he remains free as long as he stays on the river with Jim. It is when he makes his periodic forays to the shore that he encounters the strictures and hypocrisy of civilization once more. Huck grows with his experiences, becoming better able to see through the hypocrisy that is all around him until he is also able to make his own decision to light out for the territories and freedom at the end. He does not change his personality so much as he solidifies its better aspects, having seen what kind of world others have made and having decided that he is not so bad after all.

Hester Prynne has committed a sin in the eyes of her society, and she pays for that sin first by public humiliation on the scaffold where everyone can see and then by wearing the scarlet letter "A" on her blouse. Her daughter Pearl becomes a symbol of her sin even as she is a symbol of her redemption at the same time. Hester's personality is illuminated by contrast with Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. Chillingworth is an evil man who may once have had a cause for sympathy but who has dissipated any such right by his actions, his bitterness, and his hatred. He shows what happens when hatred festers inside a person, and Hester never allows this to happen. Hester lavishes her affection on Pearl and simply endures the disapproval of society until the reason for that disapproval is all but forgotten and the letter on her blouse has come to be a symbol of redemption and not sin. Dimmesdale shows what might have happened to Hester had she not confessed to society and not taken her punishment as she did. She has grown and has transferred her wisdom and moral sense to her daughter, while Dimmesdale has stagnated until his sin emerges as a stigmata on his chest.

Both Hester Prynne and Huck Finn find a freedom that many others in their socie...

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The Abyss in American Novels. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:29, July 20, 2017, from
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