Hester’s husband, Chillingworth, is displayed in a bad light because he is a fraud and lies to society. The town’s minister, Dimmesdale, is perceived by readers to be a selfish man, who won’t confess his sins. Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale are all illustrated in many different aspects throughout this novel. But the loudest and boldest characteristics these characters have are the qualities that represent their sins. Hester Prynne, the profound adulterer, is interpreted by her sin and becomes known for her sin.
Mine burns in secret!” (167) Dimmesdale envies Hester’s letter because she has no need to hide form anyone and live in secret. Towards the end of his life, Dimmesdale, has enough strength to admit to his sinful actions and declares of God’s mercy. The war that is going on inside Arthur Dimmesdale is one of appearance vs. reality. Dimmesdale in the end conquers his tribulations and admits to his hypocritical ways. While the town’s people viewed him as their incorruptible, revered and strong pastor they came to realize that he was corrupt, dishonest, and weak.
He states that “There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire” (196). He shows that every man has nothing but evil inside of him, and can do nothing to rid himself of it. All of this evil makes a man “as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell” (199). He also believes that man’s righteousness is weak, and anyone that relies on his good works to earn his way into a relationship with God is destined to fail. He says that all of the good deeds that a man could do would keep him out of hell just as much as “a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock” (199).
Chillingworth continues to abuse and sin, despite knowing that murder and abuse are immense sins. Because he lived in a Puritan town and lived with a reverend, there is no way that he could remain ignorant about sin. He had to know that murder and abuse are morally and religiously wrong, yet he continues his actions. This behavior, "the hardening of the heart and willfully sinning against God and man" is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This blasphemy is unforgivable in the eyes of God, and Chillingworth will face eternal sin.
Mine burns in secret!" Dimmesdale realizes his fault in hiding his sin, but his desire to repent is repeatedly overcome by his craving for public approval. His continuing falsehood led to his straying away from his relationship with God. "'You shall have no other gods before me.'" (Exodus 20:3) In the words of Martin Luther, this first commandment can be best interpreted as "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things" (Luther's *Small* Catechism).
Dimmesdale knows that he has done wrong. To make himself feel commendable, he uses justification for himself, “shrink from displaying themselves black and filthy in the view of men; because, thenceforward, no good can be achieved by them” (Hawthorne 122). Most upstanding public figures know that their reputation is at risk when they are deemed of doing something improper. In the case of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, he has committed a major sin. He is a pastor, who is said to be “the saint on earth” with a “white soul” by his congregation (Hawthorne 132).
Hester’s shame and guilt make her unable to express herself freely because she feels trapped by having to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her chest. "Hester Prynne might have repaid them all with a bitter and disdainful smile. But under the leaden infliction which it was her doom to endure, she felt at moments as if she must need to shriek." (Hawthorne 52-53). She wants revenge on everyone that has judged her for her sinful mistakes.
His life's work has been dedicated to God, and now his sin has tainted it. He feels that he is a fraud and is not fit to lead the people of the town to salvation. His secret guilt a much heavier burden than Hester's since he must hold it all within himself. This also reveals Dimmesdale weakness. Arthur wanted desperately to admit his sin to the world, which is shown throughout the book.
A clear physical representation of the sin manifesting itself in and on him. His infamy in conscious sin is known by the townspeople and they avoid and speak ill of him accordingly. He is aware the he is sinning, yet it doesn't seem to change his mindset as he continues his goal of destroying the reverend. "We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest!
Instead, he attempts to cover up his sin and use Hester 's sin instead in his sermons. A faithful minister would not attempt to hide his sins from his congregation; and only to make matters worse; he is a hypocrite by preaching about how terrible Hester 's sin was, even though he committed it as well. Internally Dimmesdale