The Worst Sinner in The Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter illustrates that the illumination of self-deception gapes open after one like the very jaws of hell. This is apparent through all the main characters of the novel. Although Hawthorne's work has several imperfect people as the main characters, including Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, the worst sinner is Roger Chillingworth. Chillingworth commits the greater sin because of his failure to forgive; he has an insatiable appetite for revenge; he receives extreme pleasure in torturing Dimmesdale. Hester Prynne, however, has committed sins of almost the same magnitude. While Hester tries to protect Dimmesdale by not giving the name of Pearl's father, she actually condemns him to a long road of suffering, self torture and disappointment. She does this by letting him keep the sin he committed in secret while he watches her being publicly punished. Chillingworth observes Dimmesdale's desire to confess, as well as his lack of willpower to do so. Dimmesdale rationalizes not confessing; all the while Chillingworth is torturing with constant reminders of his hypocrisy. Hester never voluntarily confesses to committing adultery, and never feels any remorse for it. Her public punishment comes not as a result of her having any contrition, but rather her apparent pregnancy. She stays in the town to be close to Dimmesdale, as a reader would find on page 84, "There dwelt...the feet of one with whom she deemed herself connected in a union..." She also stays in town to convince others, as well as herself, that she is actually regretful for her sin even though she knows in her heart she is not. She does this to appease her guilt. As Hawthorne puts it on page 84, "Here...had been the scene of her guilt... ... middle of paper ... ...beral - perhaps amoral - society, adultery can be justified if we are truly in love or somehow deceived in marriage. There are many in our society today that would teach that adultery is not a great sin, but rather the guilt is the sin. They would say, "I am no devil, for there is none." In general, if you declare something not to be a sin, or at least a justifiable sin, you can do away with the guilt. According to Christian theology, however, there is a catch that states, in 1 Corinthians 32:12, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." When we know of our self-deception perfectly, hell has arrived, the day has passed, and we are no longer able to repent. From a Christian's perspective, you can deny or disagree with what God declares to be sin, but only temporarily ...

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