Guilt in The Scarlet Letter
Undoubtedly, Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth had all committed sin in one form or another, but Chillingworth’s sin lies on a much larger scale because while Hester and Dimmesdale repent for their sin Chillingworth fails to even recognize his own. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, the author illustrates Chillingworth’s transformation towards a devilish personality. This transformation is fueled by what becomes Chillingworth’s obsession for revenge through the psychological torture of Reverend Dimmesdale. Furthermore, because Chillingworth has allowed himself to become consumed with his thirst for revenge he himself has committed a sin, and although Hester and Dimmesdale have both sinned, their sin does not carry a similar weight to that of Chillingworth’s sin. Hester and Dimmesdale have sinned against themselves; their sin does not, directly or indirectly, affect those around them. Chillingworth, on the other hand, purposefully torments Dimmesdale and through this torture he externalizes his sin. The sense of the harmful nature about Chillingworth’s sin would be further developed in saying that Hester and Dimmesdale’s was born out of love, Chillingworth’s came from spite. A sin directed to harm someone is certainly more inhumane than a sin that came out of love. Another point, which further intensifies the magnitude of Chillingworth’s sin, is his lack in ability to forgive those around him. Chillingworth continually exacerbates Dimmesdale’s pain until the day he dies and even on his dying day Dimmesdale makes it a point to forgive Chillingworth’s sin. This places further shame on Chillingworth’s sin because he has yet to realize that, even though Dimmesdale may deserve to be shown justice, he was in the wrong as well and that there should be a mutual form of forgiveness. Because Chillingworth is lacks the ability to be forgiving, which may in turn explain the oversight of his own sins, he does not come forth seeking forgiveness in...
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