The community’s expectations cause Dimmesdale to punish himself for his sin instead of confessing. He struggles for years to come to terms with his mistake, and in the end he is able to accept his true identity and confess his sin publicly. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne illustrates how the community’s influence over Dimmesdale prevents him from embracing his true identity, highlighting the negative effects the community can have on a person. Negative and restrictive diction are used to portray the detrimental aspects of the community’s strict laws, which prevent Dimmesdale from revealing his true identity to the public. The Puritans are described as, “…a people amongst whom religion and law [are] almost identical, and in whose character both [are] so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline [are] alike made venerable and awful,” illustrating the high expectations of the community and the pressure their laws place on Dimmesdale (Hawthorne 47-48).
In retrospect, this marks the beginning of a critical and fatal duality of Dimmesdale’s character: the public believes he is a saint, while Dimmesdale knows himself the vilest sinner. His refusal to confess his misdeed only compounds his guilt, which is symbolized by his rapidly deteriorating physical condition. However, it remains his strategy to hide his sin, letting it fester in the dark. It is at this point that Roger Chillingworth, physician and Hester Prynne’s husband, comes into Dimmesdale’s life. Chillingworth’s duty is to administer medical treatment to the ailing clergyman.
Chillingworth proved himself to be a hypocrite because although he was a doctor he inflicted harm upon Chillingworth rather than healing and only cared about revenge. Most of all the Puritans showed themselves to be hypocrites because they acted as if they never sinned. They judge Hester extremely harsh for her sin and yet were still willing to associate with her for the sake of vanity. Everything in The Scarlet Letter is covered with a layer of hypocrisy and evil. Both Hester and Dimmsdale knew that the secret they had should be revealed.
The Scarlet Letter Who is the greatest sinner? In this writer’s opinion, the greatest sinner in The Scarlet Letter is Roger Chillingworth. There are other characters in the book of who the reader knows has sinned. The only thing that the reader knows of Chillingworth initially is that he wants it to be kept a secret that he is Hester’s husband. The reasons that he can be called the greatest sinner is because he makes a conscious choice to keep certain secrets, he wants to exact his revenge on the man who got Hester pregnant and he is intent on hurting people around him, specifically Hester and Dimmesdale.
Depending on how I look at it, this prayer can make me feel sympathetic towards Claudius as I learn about the inner torture he is going through and how awful he feels about killing Hamlet's father. On the other hand, it also makes me more angry with him because I realize he fully understood how terrible what he did was, but he chose to do it anyway, and now he knows he should repent, but refuses to. As terrible as his guilty feelings are, they obviously aren't bad enough to make him change. Claudius still holds out some hope for himself, though, saying "All may be well." But he shows there really isn't much hope left, when, a few acts later, he plans Hamlet's murder to preserve the same things he killed Hamlet's father to get.
Chillingworth becomes so evil and cruel in his treatment of Arthur that it would have been better for the Reverend to die. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all sinners, but they each handle their guilt in different ways. Hester tries to earn forgiveness by acts of service. Dimmesdale allows his guilt to build up to the point that it kills him. Chillingworth becomes obsessed with getting revenge.
In this way, the reader perceives Chillingworth as evil when in reality he goes to extreme depths to demonstrate his love for Hester. Although both Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale love Hester Prynne and are concerned about what the community will think of them, Dimmesdale’s love for Hester is insincere and devious because he is a hypocrite, a coward, and values Puritanical expectations of him above the people he cares most about. Roger Chillingworth makes it his life’s purpose to seek out Hester’s partner and make him pay for his sin. However, Chillingworth’s underlying motivation for retribution is entrenched in his love for Hester. Although Chillingworth attaches like a “leech” (75) to Dimmesdale and wants more “revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy” (145), Chillingworth’s extreme desire for vengeance is rooted in his extreme love for Hester and therefore his actions are vindicated.
Dimmesdale is guilty for committing adultery with Hester, his secret lover. His greatest fear is that the townspeople will find out about his sin. Dimmesdale does not confess his sin to the public because he believes that a reverend must act holy and can never sin. Therefore, he suffers through the guilt of his sin that he has to live with. He endures pain from Roger Chillingworth who tortures him.
Pearl and Roger Chillingworth contend brutally over the soul of the minister Arthur Dimmesdale. Although seen as a holy magistrate, Reverend Dimmesdale committed the sin of adultery. Not only did he violate his reverence for Hester Prynne’s soul (Hawthorne 234), but he also wronged her husband, Roger Chillingworth. In addition to this, Dimmesdale hid his sin while Hester suffered public humiliation and degradation. His cowardice acts invited the war over his soul, which attacked him mercilessly throughout the story.
Their sin becomes the only thing these men think about, consuming them to the point that nothing else is important, and eventually takes their lives. For Dimmesdale, his guilty conscience and self-abuse are the causes of his untimely death. For Chillingworth, his obsessive revenge becomes permanently engraved into his being and when the cause for his vengeance dies he dies soon afterward. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth are both wretched sinners with transgressions that have different effects - physically, emotionally, and mentally. It is obvious that both men are affected drastically by their wrongdoings and in the end pay with their lives.