Analysis Of Hester’s, Dimmesdale’s, And Chillingworth’s Sins In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. His vision was to help the readers know and analyze the main attraction of sin and redemption. They are all humans and subject to temptations in society. In other words, they can fall from grace at any given time. However, their belief in Christ, allows them to understand that they are forgiven for their sins. We know that sin is sin. During all this confusion they were all affected in a way so powerful it showed on the outside. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth’s actions are very sinful and disturbing. However, with a repented heart and act of forgiveness, these characters can be forgiven and live a mellifluous life within the community. For example, Hester can show Pearl to be better than her as she grows and show why God has chosen Hester to be the mother of Pearl for a reason. Hester’s sin is outwardly visible, while Chillingworth and Dimmesdale’s sins were hidden.
Hester is a woman that disobeys the system of the Puritans, takes the consequences, and in the end is respected by the Puritans. Hester Prynne, to the Puritans, is an extravagant sinner. Hester has gone against the Puritan community by committing adultery. “The scarlet letter burned on Hester Prynne’s bosom. Here was another ruin, the responsibility of which came partly home to her”. Hester knew exactly what she was getting into when she decided to do these inappropriate actions, and sinful acts. Her own actions affect the Puritans and her own daughter Pearl, assuming that Hester was a lost cause that could only be saved by a confession and methodical repentance. “…. ‘It will not flee from me, for I wear nothing on my bosom yet!’ ‘Nor ever will, my child, I hope’, said Hester. ‘And why not, mother?’ asked Pearl, stopping short. . . . “Will it not come of its own accord, when I am a woman grown?’”.
Pearl is frequently always aware of things that others do not see nor pay attention to , and here she is very prophetic in identifying the scarlet letter on her mother’s bosom. In curiosity, she notices that no other women wear the letter “A.” Because she is still a young child, Pearl really does not understand the outcome of the things she sees and hears. She reveals the real truths by only indirectly asking obvious questions. In addition, this inalterable sin, Hester will always wear a symbol of regret on her chest for the rest of her life. If they pay attention from the very start, then they can see that Hester Prynne is a young and gorgeous woman, yet she has brought a young child into a sinful world with an unrevealed father, who will not show his true self. Hester, to the readers, is obviously a woman who has taken advantage of a strict religious law, but who has sinned in an proclamation of love. The Puritans do not take into account or care for her feelings. They are people that take things as being right or wrong. Committing adultery is seen as wrong in the Bible, and therefore the Puritans do not care about the circumstances or reasons why she has committed the sin. The Puritans lack compassion and are prejudiced.
In The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale begins to go ballistic with stress, anxiety and guilt because he knows he should also be taking the punishment of wearing the scarlet letter with Hester. Dimmesdale keeps his sins confidential. Dimmesdale never speaks about any of his intertwinement in the affair, until eventually it just tears him up from the inside out. Eventually he tries to confess his sin to his congregation, but as he was preaching he realizes they only saw the confession as if it were part of his sermon. “He had spoken the very truth, and transformed it into the veriest falsehood”. Instead of him fixing their thoughts about his sermon, Dimmesdale just kept it to himself and moved on, again hiding his sinfulness. Dimmesdale is the only one stopping himself from telling everyone the truth about what he has done. His perception is he thinks it will confuse the society, as it should. Dimmesdale is affecting Pearl’s life and the way Chillingworth thinks. Pearl does not find out who her father is until she got much older. Pearl is the one responsible for making Dimmesdale feel all the guilt that he does, which eventually will make him ready for his real confession. When Pearl and Dimmesdale get close with one another, she shows an inborn acknowledgment of his true identity. With tiny hints of how comfortable she was around him told Hester she knew somehow they were connected in a way. Therefore, Dimmesdale’s everyday actions would reflect on how Pearl would see him as. Chillingworth, sets Dimmesdale up during his sessions and gets him into a physical and emotional depression, which later affected him in a heart condition.
Readers can infer from the text that what happens to Dimmesdale later on has a much deeper meaning than what we thought chillingworth has caused. “Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken”. This shows how Pearl was in such great grief that she had promised herself that she would become a better women and have emotions like how to have joy and its sorrows that comes with it.
Close to the end of the novel, Arthur Dimmesdale tells Hester about the concern he has about Chillingworth: ‘We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man’s revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart’. Chillingworth has always been considered as a man without a heart or feelings, which is why Hester commits her sin. One of Chillingworth’s sin was that he wants the secret that he is Hester’s husband to stay quiet. The reason that he can be called a big sinner is he makes the choice to keep the secrets he has. He wants to get revenge on the man who has gotten Hester pregnant, and he is so focused on hurting people around him, like Hester and Dimmesdale. He likes the idea of keeping a secret. He even threatens Hester to keep quiet about his true identity. “Thou has kept the secret of thy paramour. Keep, likewise, mine! There are none in this land that know me. Breathe not, to any human soul, that thou didst ever call me husband!…I find here a woman, a man, a child amongst whom and myself there exist the closest ligaments. No matter of whether of love or hate; no matter whether of right or wrong! Thou and thine, Hester Prynne, belong to me. My home is where thou art, and where he is. But betray me not!”. He is always making sure Hester never did what she wanted to do at all times. He says , he loves Hester but does nothing but control her as if she’s an animal. Hester deserves more respect than that. Chillingworth’s sin hurted himself than it did Dimmesdale and Hester. In the end, after all this revenge, hate, and envy that was inside of him consumed him he leaves his last will and wealth to Pearl, a child of love and compassion, the symbol and view of the scarlet letter.
In conclusion, Hester’s sin is outwardly visible, while Chillingworth and Dimmesdale’s sins were hidden. Everything comes into a clearer view after Dimmesdale’s death. Dimmesdale is meant to show a lesson on how sin can disrupt one’s life. Chillingworth dies as well, because his source of hatred and vengeance has been removed. Dimmesdale finally confesses, and Chillingworth loses his chance for revenge and damnation. Moreover, even though the resolution takes place before the townspeople, the Puritan elders have no power to judge or punish that situation at all because he was being a defiled and devilish like man, a disgrace to the society. He wills his own death, really breaking away from Puritan morals. Hester and Pearl’s future are more complicated. Now that Pearl has Dimmesdale as a present father for the first time, Pearl can finally become more whole. Pearl has existed up to this point mainly to irk her parents and remind them what they need to do and expose the truth she is, the living outcome of their sin. The final identification of that sin has freed her emotionally. Now she can become the young women she was meant to become as she continues to grow.
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