The habitual nature of mankind to sin has existed since the creation of Adam and Eve in The Book of Genesis. When God had created Adam from the “dust of the ground,” and Eve from the “rib” of Adam, God had bestowed upon them the gift of innocence and a peaceful life. They were told to not eat from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”; however, Eve was deceived by the serpent leading to the unfaithful act of both Adam and Eve to eat an apple from the forbidden tree. At this moment, their eyes were opened and their innocence expired. God punishes Adam and Eve heavily and so the nature of sinfulness had developed.
This theme of the loss of innocence has resonated throughout American literature, especially in the novel The Scarlet Letter. After Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale’s sin of adultery, Hester loses her innocence and had an illegitimate child named Pearl. Pearl then transforms into a symbol of Hester and Arthur’s sinful love affair, and so Hester’s eyes are opened up to experience the evils and corruption of the Puritan society in which she lives in. Arthur is also greatly affected by his sin of adultery as he endures self-torture and guilt due to his loss of innocence. Other examples of the loss of innocence in American literature are in “Hamlet” with King Claudius and Queen Gertrude and “Age of Innocence” with Archer Newland and Ellen Olenska. In “Hamlet” King Claudius and Queen Gertrude lose their innocence as they both marry quickly after King Hamlet’s death. In “Age of Innocence” the relationship between Archer and Ellen is a symbol of loss of innocence as Archer and Ellen have an extramarital relationship behind May’s back. The motif of sinfulness aids readers in understanding a character’s true personality and is very prevalent throughout many American literature novels and plays.