Greatest Sinner

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne emphasizes the sin present in early Puritan society by following the lives a three people who commit major sins. Of those three, each one experiences different amounts of remorse, penance, and guilt; but the person that felt none of these was Roger Chillingworth. Roger Chillingworth is the greatest sinner in the Scarlet Letter because of his drive for revenge, lack of guilt, and infliction of pain onto others. Roger Chillingworth has a strong, well-rooted want for revenge for the crimes the injustices done to him, and he goes to such a magnificent extent to fulfill that revenge that his soul was filled with evil. Chillingworth, who initially was a calm and decent man, consumed by his revenge, had "a kind of fierce thought [that] seized the man" (Hawthorne, 120), that completely controlled all of his actions. This fierceness and determination for evil doings is a very strong sin. This lust for revenge also transformed Chillingworth's natural human nature that "loves more readily than it hates" (Hawthorne, 149) into one of only hatred and nothing else. This need for revenge also left no space for guilt in his heart. Chillingworth's next great sin was his lack of guilt and penance. Unlike Chillingworth, the other characters of the book experience significant guilt and penance that completely changes who they are. Arthur Dimmesdale, another great sinner, feels considerable guilt and inflicts a course of penance upon himself, even when no one demands it of him. His guilt completely shattered the poor man where "his nerve was absolutely destroyed" and "his moral fierce was abased into more that childish weakness" (Hawthorne, 148). Hester Prynne's guilt also has similar effects as Dimmesdale. "All the light and graceful foliage of her character had been withered up by this red hot brand [scarlet letter]" (Hawthorne, 152) revealing the lasting damage that her penance had inflicted on her. Dimmesdale's and Hester's transformation...
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