Sin affects everyone in every way. Sin is one of the main themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter". We most vividly see the affects of sin through Hester Prynne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth, and Pearl.
A scarlet letter was worn to show openly someone's sin. Hester Prynne wore a scarlet letter "A" on her bosom which signifies adultery. She had a child, Pearl, with a man who was not her husband. Because she sinned and broke the seventh commandment, she became an outcast in society. She used to be looked upon as one of the most beautiful women in the town. Hawthorne describes her as "being beautiful from regularity of feature....she was lady-like, too" (50). However, after she stood on the scaffold, women called her a "brazen hussy" (51).
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale had an affair with a married woman, Hester Prynne. As a result of the affair, Pearl was born.
There were many horrible outcomes from their intercourse. One affect was what became of Dimmesdale's health. He became physically weak and "his nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His mortal force was abased into more than childish weakness" (144). Hester Prynne even thought that there was something wrong with Dimmesdale's being. While he was walking into the forest Hester thought "he looked haggard and feeble" (170). Because Dimmesdale was a reverend, he felt exceptionally dreadful about what had happened between himself and Hester. At most times he would keep "his hand over his heart" (170). We assume the reason that he kept his hand over his heart was because he had a scarlet letter of his own. While Hester openly showed her sin, Dimmesdale bares his "in secret" (173).
The third person affected by this sin was Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband. Chillingworth was so upset that he became overly obsessed with finding out with whom Hester had the affair. Hawthorne referred to Chillingworth as "a striking evidence of man's faculty of transforming himself into the devil" (153). This shows that he basically sold his soul and became like the devil. While Hester was talking to Chillingworth about Dimmesdale, he looked at her and the "evil within him" (156) was on his face .Hester finally saw him for what he was, "a fiend!" (156).
Pearl was most obviously affected by the affair, seeing as how she was the product of it. Hawthorne continually says how it would have been better if Pearl was never born. Hester thought to herself "whether it were for ill or good that the poor little creature had been born at all" (150). The older Pearl grew the more evil she became. This is shown through the way she acts. One example of her being a "naughty child" (160) is when she "laid out a jelly-fish to melt in the warm sun" (160).
We should sin as Hester and Reverend Dimmesdale did because our sins will be found out someday. Either they will openly be exposed or hidden in secret. Either way our sins will haunt us. However, if we try our hardest not to sin, we will have nothing to worry about.