The Sins of the Scarlet Letter
Those who have a spiritual background would argue that all sin is equal, and that no sin is greater than any other. However, others would argue that committing adultery is greater than gossiping, or telling a lie. The novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne emphasizes the difference in sins. Although each of the characters commits their own sin, each of them could be argued as the one with the greatest. Through Dimmesdale’s hypocrisy, deception, and adultery, his sin is the greatest.
Dimmesdale is the minister of the Puritan town he lives in. To everyone in the town, Dimmesdale is perceived as the perfect man, however, his hypocrisy and dishonesty outweighs the sin of Hester and Chillingsworth. Hawthorne writes, “Hester Prynne… I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer... though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, as it were—to add hypocrisy to sin (Hawthorne 129). Dimmesdale is almost speaking as a hypocrite himself. Unfortunately, he does not realize he should be taking his own advice that he preaches. For the past seven years, Dimmesdale preaches the word of God, especially while he encourages the churchgoers to confess their sins openly and to repent unto God. However, he is the one who should be confessing his sins unto God. Not only is Dimmesdale’s sin the greatest because he is a hypocrite but also because he committed adultery. Dimmesdale proves to be the greatest sinner because is he lying to man, to God, and more importantly to himself because he has committed adultery with Hester Prynne, which then results into an illegitimate child, Pearl. Hawthorne explains, "it is inconceivable, the agony with which this public tortures him" (125). The adultery that Dimmesdale commits eventually eats him alive. He tortures...
Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Kaplan, 2011. Print.
"Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale and Purification Through Death in Hawthorne 's Scarlet Letter." 123HelpMe.com. 12 Sep 2013
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