The Affects of Sin on the Individual in The Scarlet Letter In the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there is a reoccurring theme of the affects of sin on man. The three main characters, Hester Pryne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingsworth, are all affected by the sin of Hester Pryne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester Pryne is strengthened by the sin, Arthur Dimmesdale is weakened by it, and Roger Chillingsworth becomes evil because of it. The protagonist, Hester Prynne is, in essence, strengthened by the sin she commits with Arthur Dimmesdale. She turns the meaning of the letter “A” from adultery to able.
She seeks redemption in the eyes of God and man through the good deeds she does for others. She becomes “self-ordained a Sister of Mercy,” who’s new role is that of a tender nurse to the colony’s ill (158).
She asserts that fulfillment and love are worth fighting for, and she continues to walk about Puritan Boston with her head held high. However, the sin she commits has the opposite affect on her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale. Weakness and frailty overcome the minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale becomes an unknowing victim to Hester Prynne’s husband, RogerChillingsworth.
Chillingsworth maneuvers himself into an intimate friend and constant attendant to Dimmesdale. The worse Dimmesdale feels, the stronger he appears in the eyes of his congregation. He grows pale and thin and his congregation assumes he is too pure to eat. His outward appearance comes from his ritual of fasting until he faints. He also partakes in the penance of whipping himself until he bleeds. Dimmesdale is trying to starve or scourge the sin from his soul.
An Explanation of the Basis for the Detrimental Effect of Hester s Advice on Dimmesdale After committing the sin of adultery, Dimmesdale s physical and mental condition begins to deteriorate. When Hester asks him to run away from the situation they are in, he begins the final descent to his demise. Initially, the idea lifts his spirits. Eventually he feels compelled to confess when he realizes ...
This, to him, is an easier solution than ruining the virtuous image his congregation has of him. Chillingsworth, on the other hand, does not seek redemption from sin. As a result of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale’s sin, RogerChillingsworth becomes evil. Chillingsworth begins to feed on the sin by torturingDimmesdale. He constantly digs into the soul of Dimmesdale to find the evil he suspects in him. “Then why not reveal them[the sin] here?” inquiresChillingsworth (128).
Here he again tries to get Dimmesdale to reveal his sin. Heis an evil villain who is playing a game with his enemy. He feeds on the hidden sin within Dimmesdale. He finds an evil power in watching Dimmesdale suffer. Hawthorne justly calls Chillingsworth “Satan’s emissary, in the guise of old RogerChillingsworth” (124).
In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the sin that Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne commit have varying affects on the main characters.
Hester Prynne becomes a stronger woman, Arthur Dimmesdale becomes a weak minister, and Arthur Chillingsworth becomes an evil villain. Thus, Hawthorne uses these characters to show the affects of sin on man.