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Evil/Sin Portrayed in Dimmesdale and Chillingworth

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter many aspects of evil and sin are reflected through the characters Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth made their own choice of being a sinner and being evil. Therefore, that is what Hawthorne believed to be the definition of evil and sin; an individual chooses to do an action that is considered sinful. Although Dimmesdale and Chillingworth both portray evil and sin they portray it in two completely different forms. Dimmesdale is shown as being a secret sinner throughout the novel, but with the evil torturing that he receives from Chillingworth and himself it drives him to the point where he then becomes a public sinner. It is better for an individual to confess their sin than to bury it deep down.
Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister, has had an affair (which he chose to do) with Chillingworth’s wife and he can’t come to the point where he can confess his sin to the public. Therefore, he is a secret sinner. By being this secret sinner Dimmesdale begins to physically and mentally break down. He begins to emotionally and physically beat himself up, “he whipped himself, starved himself as an act of penance until his knees trembled beneath him, and stayed up all night having long vigils and sometimes having visions” (Hawthorne 96). Dimmesdale’s sin has caught up with him and it is affecting his present along with his future; his secret sin is eating him up. He is beating himself up because he has kept it locked inside of him when he should have openness about his sin. Hester has openness about the sin they committed together, and it is not eating her up like it is eating up Dimmesdale. Not only has Dimmesdale been beating himself up, literally, over hi...

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...d making his condition even worse by not confessing his sin. It was his own choice to keep his sin a secret when he should have confessed it a long time ago. Also, it was his own choice to torture himself. Dimmesdale believed that he should be the one punishing himself because his sin was a secret so therefore he had to deal with it and punish his sin on his own, minus the torturing from Chillingworth. Therefore, Hawthorne describes sinning as being better if the sin is a public sin and not a private sin and he also believed that one chooses to become evil. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are tremendous examples of Hawthorne’s definition of sin and evil.

Works Cited
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. 1851. Rpt. In Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings. Ed. Leland S. Person. New York: Norton, 2005. 3-166. Norton Critical Edition.