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 resemble 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.
. Hawthorne believed that having a hidden sin was worse than being honest and open about a sin, “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred” (Hawthorne 163). Hawthorne doesn’t say for humans to be sinless, but to be open about their sin. 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. He is beating ...
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...and not accepting his sin as a part of him, it was killing him. In addition, Hawthorne believed that evil was a choice that a human makes. In this case, Chillingworth chose to be evil by committing the sin of revenge. Although Dimmesdale gave Chillingworth reason to torture him, it was Chillingworth’s own choice to seek revenge against Dimmesdale. Chillingworth could have forgiven the two, but instead he decided to become an avenging character in the novel. It was Dimmesdale’s 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. 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.
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