The Power of Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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The Power of Sin in The Scarlet Letter

Sin is a part of everyday life. Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around the theme of sin and the effects it has on the mind, body, and soul.

A sin was committed by three of the main characters in the novel and throughout the novel Hawthorne tries to point out that sin, no matter how trivial or how substantial, is still sin. There have been debates on exactly who is the biggest sinner, but in Hawthorne's case, I think he believes that the sins were equal and throughout the novel he develops each of them, trying to get the reader to understand is reasoning.

Adultery, which was the sin surrounding two of the main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, was the sin in which the novel was based on. Hester committed adultery with Dimmesdale, a Puritan pastor, and had a child (Pearl) as living proof of her sin. She confessed her sin and was looked down upon by the citizens living in the town. "She would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman's frailty and sinful passion." Basically, she was an example of what nobody should become.

The sin of adultery was confessed by one of the two, but Arthur Dimmesdale decided to keep it a secret, which in time tore him apart. Being a pastor, he was afraid of the consequences that would result from his confession, so for seven long years he and Hester kept it a secret, and were never seen together in public.

Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband, and the other sinner in this novel, sought revenge on whoever the father to Pearl was. He soon suspected Dimmesdale, and would not rest until got revenge on him. Chillingworth pretended to be a physician and was to take care of Dimmesdale, but at the same time he was slowly poisoning him and punishing him physically and mentally. "Calm, gentle, passionless, as he appeared, there was yet, we fear, a quiet depth of malice, hitherto latent, but active now...which led him to imagine a more intimate revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy.
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