The Worst Sinner in the Scarlet Letter

Topics: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne Pages: 4 (1460 words) Published: December 2, 2012
The Worst Sinner in The Scarlet Letter

In The Scarlet Letter there are three main sinners presented to the reader. Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth are all written with their own forms of sin, and each has a unique coping mechanism for their sins and guilt. Sin, at this time, was a hugely important part of daily life, and punishment for one’s sins was universally seen as not only a positive thing, but a necessary action to keep the people of the colony pure. Both Hester and Dimmesdale receive great punishments for their sin of adultry. However, one character is portrayed as a true sinner, more so than the others. Roger Chillingworth is by far the worst sinner in The Scarlet Letter. This is made apparent by his many attempts to harm Dimmesdale mentally and spiritually, and more importantly his complete lack of remorse for his actions. It is this absence of guilt for his sin that shows that he is a sinner much worse than any other character in the book. Roger Chillingworth is Hester Prynne’s husband in the novel, though this is kept secret from the townspeople through the end of the book. He, upon arriving and seeing his wife upon the scaffold, vows to take revenge on the man whom Hester committed her sin. Though he chooses to leave Hester to suffer the punishment given to her, his hatred towards her is never hidden. Chillingworth attaches himself to Dimmesdale upon seeing his grief, in hopes of discovering who the father of Hester’s child is. And once realizing it is Dimmesdale, Chillingworth proceeds to continually torment Dimmesdale as his personal revenge and punishment, to the point of making Dimmesdale ill even further beyond his original grief-stricken depleted health. He does this with no regret or compassion towards the man he torments, nor any recognition for his actions as sinful. As the novel progresses, he takes on an almost evil nature, having no feelings whatsoever save for those of loathing towards Hester and...

Cited: Nathaniel Hawthorne., and DeMaiolo, James F. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Applause, 1996.
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