Power Of Sin In The Scarlett Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Power of Sin
Maya Nassif

Since the beginning of time, people have always been interested in learning about sin and its effects on a person. Whether it’s seeing the effects in a movie character or reading about one in a book, sin plays a great part in much of the characters downfalls, and in those moments they reveal their true characteristics. The characters Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth in the novel The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne are no different. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses how sin affects these three and teaches the reader about how sin can affect our human nature. Hawthorne suggests that a person’s authentic character is proven when they find themselves in difficult situations
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While Hester could openly admit to the sin she has committed and deal with her punishment, Dimmesdale had to put on a face and uphold his religious position in society. Out of all the characters in the novel dealing with sin had the greatest toll on Dimmesdale, causing him to go insane and physically ill. Because of this the Hawthorne portrays Dimmesdale as one of the most conflicted characters in the book. Dimmesdale cowardice and selfishness certainly influence the reader’s perspective on him, especially when he could come forth about his sin in other situations. “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." (65) In this scene, Dimmesdale has an opportunity to finally admit to his sin, but instead he encourages Hester to do the admitting for him. Words like “shame” and guilty” paint this scene in a negative light, and even further shows the reader that Hester had to deal with shame and guilt. In this moment, Dimmesdale could have and should have cleared his conscious and admitted to his sin, but he did not. This event reveals an unexpected side of Dimmesdale. By not admitting to his sin he lacked the courage to deal with what could ruin his reputation proving his cowardliness. He would not speak up and come forth about the sin he …show more content…
A sin caused Chillingworth’s downfall, a sin even more evil than the one that Hester and Dimmesdale had committed, according to Dimmesdale. “That old man 's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!" (183) Dimmesdale describes Chillingworth’s revenge as “blacker than [his] sin”, which revealed to the reader his obsession with vengeance. He had “violated the sanctity of a human heart”, “sanctity” meaning “the quality or state of being holy or sacred” (Merriam Webster). Hawthorne’s choice of language also reveals that Chilingworth’s revenge has in a sense poisoned the goodness in the human heart. Chillingworth develops a malicious nature because he wants revenge. Before the “A” on Hester’s breast defined her, her and Chillingworth were married, but they never loved each other. When he returns to the town he acts suspicious towards Dimmesdale he only causes pain to others. Once he comes back to Boston and realizes the sin Hester has committed, the reader only sees him in situations involving his obsession with vengeance, and in these moments the reader learns a deal about his malicious and evil

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