How Has One Sin Affected The Lives Of Four Individuals In The Scarlet Letter?

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Hester, In The Scarlet Letter, by committing the sinful act, deeply affected the lives of Pearl, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, and her self. Chillingworth abandoned the life of a kind physician, to repeatedly torture the minister, so he became evil; Dimmesdale transformed from a kindred minister to a sorrowful and guilty being. Pearl, being raised away from society, tended to have an odd personality. Hester was banished from society with her daughter and was looked down upon by the people. Therefore, Hester was very humble and remorseful, however withstanding of the citizens. All four human beings affected by Hester's sin suffered from alienation and changed for the worse because of it.

Roger Chillingworth, initially a kind husband, has sent his wife overseas to America, and promised to soon follow. When she arrives, she figures that he is dead, and becomes involved and committed adultery with the minister. After Chillingworth gets wind of this situation, he swears to find the man behind this incident.

He doesn't want as much as to avenge her, but he wants to make Dimmesdale suffer as well. Chillingworth wanted this man dead for what he had done, this soon became his only goal in life. He became more and more evil as the story progressed. Whilst he stands there in the cell with Hester, he forces her to make a promise not to reveal him as her husband. His attitude seems in the range of sanity here, however, at a later confrontation, his motive and dedication for finding Hester's lover grew ten-fold. Chillingworth was described as "˜An influence dueling upon him [Dimmesdale] like a curse (p.168)' Chillingworth's love for revenge against Dimmesdale is very real. And as the plot progresses, Chillingworth will become more dangerous destroying whatever was nice about him at the same time.

Dimmesdale is the man who Chillingworth is after. He committed the sin of adultery with Hester; he feels the uttermost remorse for what he has done. Ironically, the parish sees him as the holiest citizen in the community, and in their eyes, the last person who would have done such a thing; however, he is the pinnacle of sin. After the act of adultery was committed, Dimmesdale felt very guilty as Hester stood there on the scaffold and was ridiculed for hours a day. As a hypocrite, Dimmesdale continues to pray to God in sorrow for forgiveness. He wants to come out and tell the society of his sin, but he is afraid they will kill him for it, but the only way that he can feel comforted, is if he admits to it. Hester Prynne carries a scarlet letter on her gown, and Dimmesdale carried it in his heart. Dimmesdale has dreams and visions of angels denying him from heaven, and his own mother, turning away at him. He beats himself with his bloody scourge as a purging of his sin. Since this incident, Dimmesdale's life has morphed into a deep dark pit of sorrow.

Pearl was brought into the world illegitimately, and she is ridiculed by the townspeople as the "˜Demon Child' or "˜Imp'. She is just like any other child in the Puritan society, except she has been secluded from it. The magistrates banished her from living among the people in the town, for fear that she will attract too much attention from them. Hester and Pearl live in a cottage near the woods. With no human playmates, Pearl befriends trees, sticks, leaves, and other things from nature. The children see the mother-daughter couple and begin to throw mud, or make fun of them. Pearl stands up for her mother and chases the children away. She does not let anyone insult or mock her mother for her strange appearance. However, Pearl rudely disobeys her mother. When they were at the mansion of the governor, Pearl purposely shouted out a shriek to show that Hester is not in control of her. Also, she lied to the magistrates about her mother teaching her the Bible and other religious matters. She acts very untamed; when Hester and she walk through the graveyard, Pearl jumps up and down playfully around the graves, like a demon child. Due to Hester's disloyalty, and their seclusion, Pearl was raised and lives with an odd and imp like personality.

Hester's own act sends her into a life of seclusion. She didn't mean for this to happen in the first place. She had been sent over by her husband, and she sincerely believed he did not survive on the trip across the ocean. So, she commits the sin of adultery and is prosecuted on the scaffold. Hester is stamped as an outcast. She moves to a house in the middle of her woods with her daughter, and only is called upon buy the town when they are in need of her sewing skills. Hester puts up with all the snotty attitudes the magistrates give her. She is not angry or pushy, the town recognizes her as inferior, and she accepts it and lives with it. She is in remorse for what she has done, but she has become humble, but remains proud. Towards the beginning of the book, Hester stood proud on top of the scaffold with much dignity. The town took that away from her. In Hester's remorse, she gives to those less fortunate than her. She feeds the poor, and visits bedsides of the sick and dying.

All those involved in Hester's sinful act are thrown into isolation from the outer society. Chillingworth has the ambition to kill Dimmesdale, and will stop at nothing. Dimmesdale was in a state of deep remorse, he feels extreme sorrow for what he put Hester through; Pearl was raised as a child with an imp like behavior, due to her seclusion from society, and Hester's isolation lowers her self-esteem and pride, and she willingly admits that she is a lower being than the citizens of New England. Dimmesdale might come out soon, and that will reveal Chillingworth, and cause angry action between the characters. All these characters' isolation was the effect of Hester Prynne's one sin.