Theme Of Evil In The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter provides a thought provoking insight into the world of the Puritans back during the 17th century. The novel emphasizes the importance of original sin and the presence of evil in the lives of the Puritans, especially the three main characters. Hester Prynne can be described as a strong-willed, independent woman who is put to shame due to her sinful actions with the town 's minister. Arthur Dimmesdale is the town 's minister who preaches about purity and distinguishing all evil through confession of one 's sins, yet he is unable to follow his own preaching. Roger Chillingworth is a piece from Hester 's past, who comes back into her life, seeking revenge on the one with whom she has mutually sinned. These three characters allow …show more content…
"I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer!" (Hawthorne p.44) He is vastly admired by the townspeople, which makes it extremely difficult for him to confess his horrific sin. He preaches against sin and encourages his people to confess all their sins and evil thoughts, although he fails to do so himself. Through his words and actions, he can be considered as a hypocritical coward, who is too weak to admit the truth to those who look up to him so dearly. "Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life." (Hawthorne p.45) He displays his weakness and failure by indirectly telling Hester to reveal his sin, rather than revealing it himself. "Else, I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness, and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgment-seat. Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret! (Hawthorne p.128) He is, indeed, ashamed of his sin and the fact that it remains in secret, while Hester is strong …show more content…
“Better had he died at once! Never did mortal suffer what this man has suffered. And all, all, in the sight of his worst enemy! He has been conscious of me. He has felt an influence dwelling always upon him like a curse." (Hawthorne p.113) Chillingworth understands how much pain he has caused the minister, yet he feels that he is justified in his actions. He felt that it would have been too easy to simply kill the minister, so he arranged to torture him through guilty thoughts and making sure that he never forgot his transgression. “And what am I now?” demanded he, looking into her face, and permitting the whole evil within him to be written on his features. “I have already told thee what I am! A fiend! Who made me so?” (Hawthorne p.114) He blames both Hester and Dimmesdale for what he has become, but Hester 's punishment is the Scarlet Letter, whereas Dimmesdale must pay for his sins through constant suffering. Dimmesdale, in Chillingworth 's eyes, has wronged him in several ways, including the violation from his affair with Hester, and turning Chillingworth, himself, into a demon. His intentions are later more evident as he plots and schemes for Dimmesdale 's suffering. Chillingworth does not want Dimmesdale to simply feel ashamed but to become more sinful and hypocritical as proof of his deserved damnation. His secret intentions reveals that he is the

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