The effect of sin upon the human soul is the prevailing theme in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Book: “The Scarlet Letter” and he examined the unforgiving attitude of the Puritans towards sin in their treatment of adulteress Hester Prynne and their cruel punishment, which is akin to the harsh punishment and judgmental attitude of God as portrayed in the Old Testament.
On the other hand, the book “Moby Dick” was written during the era of Protestantism when people were exhorted rather than coerced into conventional morality, where independence of thought and religion had set in and man was allowed a greater degree of flexibility in the wages for his sin, as exemplified in the New Testament through the teaching of Jesus where even the most grievous sinner could seek and find forgiveness. The quality of flexible thought is portrayed in the differing perspectives of the white whale that are presented in the book, Mody Dick. It may be viewed as an agent of evil or of good, depending upon the perspective of the viewer. This is the essence of the difference between the Old and New Testaments as well. As opposed to the harsh wages of sin in the Old Testament, the New Testament offers forgiveness to those who believe, therefore the wages of sin will depend upon the attitude of the sinner. The contrast between the attitude towards sin that is reflected in the old and New Testament is also revealed in the two works “Scarlet Letter” and “Moby Dick” with the former representing the path of the Old Testament and the latter the path of the New Testament.
Hawthorne’s book centers around a female protagonist Hester Prynne, whose husband is captured in America and is away for many years. Hester commits adultery but refuses to divulge the name of her partner, who is later revealed to be none other than the priest of the community – Arthur Dimmesdale.