The Scarlet Letter

Essay by Supergirl85302High School, 11th gradeA+, January 2005

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter revolves around the theme of sin and the effects it has on the mind, body, and soul. The main sin was somehow affected all of the characters in the book, which was adultery. The three main characters were the most widely affected, and their whole lives were molded by the way they dealt with the sin. The sin surrounds, encloses, and strangles them. There was no escaping from its harsh consequences. Hawthorne tries to point out that sin, no matter how trivial or how substantial, is still sin. Regarding the sinfulness of the major characters, one can only conclude that according to Puritan standards Roger Chillingworth, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Hester Prynne are guilty of the greatest sin in this order.

Roger Chillingworth committed the greatest sin because he let himself ruled by hatred and the consuming desire for vengeance. Roger Chillingworth comes to Boston to seek out his wife, Hester Prynne.

When he arrives, she is standing upon a scaffold with a baby in her arms. After finding out what was going on, the first thing he says is "It irks me, nevertheless, that the partner of her iniquity should not, at least, stand on the scaffold by her side. But he will be known!- He will be known!- he will be known!"(69) This foreshadows the sin that he commits, which is greater than Hester and Dimmesdales' sin. Chillingworth devotes his entire life to finding Hester's partner in crime and punishing him. He suspects Dimmesdale and so becomes his doctor and moves in with him. Once he is certain of his culprit, he keeps him alive to live in agony. The effect of his great sin on his own character is that of a complete transformation to evil. His physical characteristics become...