The Scarlet Letter's Worst Sinner

Essay by foozsha December 2004

download word file, 2 pages 5.0 1 reviews

In puritan New England all sins were punished in different ways, some worse than others. In The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne is an adulterer, Reverend Dimmesdale is another adulterer, and Roger Chilingworth is a man who cares only about punishing the man who slept with his wife. These are the sins they commit and they are each punished but it different ways.

Chilingworth is the most sinful of the three because he causes other people to suffer greatly. He starts premeditating his sin at the beginning of the novel when he sees a woman standing on the scaffold in the middle of town. Chilingworth asks the man next to him "I pray to you good Sir, who is this woman?-and wherefore is she here set in public shame?" (Hawthorne 42). "You must be new or else you would have heard of Mistress Hester Prynne, and her evil doings" (42) is the reply of the man.

Chilingworth sees that she is holding a baby and realizes that she has cheated on her husband.

Later in the novel, Chilingworth meets Hester in the jail. Pearl, Hester's daughter, is crying and looks ill. Chilingworth, who learned alchemy in Europe and learned herbal medicine from his Indian captives, makes a medicine and tries to give it to the baby. Hester pushes him away whispering, "Wouldst thou avenge thyself on the innocent babe?" (50). "Foolish woman! What should ail me to harm this misbegotten and miserable babe?" (50) responded Chilingworth half coldly.

The major sin committed by Chilingworth happens later in the novel. He is out for revenge on the man who slept with his wife. He deductively finds out that it is the minister of the town, Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale lives in the same house as Chilingworth...