Sin in The Scarlet Letter
Since the dawn of time people have read, studied and enjoyed books in
which the hero or heroes fall from grace. No matter who those heroes are-
the human race in The Bible,the demon prince Lestat in Anne Rice's "Vampire
Chronicles"or a certain Thane of Cawdor in "Macbeth"- sin plays a greatpart
in all of their downfalls and subsequent ressurections.And the three main
characters in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"-Dimmesdale, Chillingsworth,
and Hester Prynne- are no different.
All three characters are flung from the normal rolesthat society has
laid upon them- minister, housewife, doctor-into new roles- sinner, whore,
and vengance crazed sadist.These new roles are not necessarily apparent to
all in town.However, even though the townspeople do not know of thesinners,
God does. And in God's eyes, whose sin was greater?That, I cannot answer.
But in this mere mortal's opinion, the sin of Chillingsworth far outdid the
sin of Dimmesdale or Hester Prynne, for Chillingsworth's sin was one of
revenge and one of secrecy. He was not driven by an anger at his own sin, but
by the sin of others. He used deception and manipulation to make the life of
another miserable. He was not flung from society's view as if he were a
dirty secret like Hester was; he was embraced by it. However, his sin
did take its toll. He was disfigured horribly and became a twisted man,
scarred by sin. He also was robbed of the pleasure of destroying Dimmesdale
which was his reason for living. He died shortly after Dimmesdale.
Hester Prynne, however, was the complete opposite of Chillingworth in
that her sin gave her life, not destroyed it. She took her punishment and
embraced it, using it to rebuild herself not as a pathetic sinner, but as a
pseudo-saint. At first, the town shunned her as a sinner. However, after
they saw that...
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