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Essay/Term paper: The affects of sin on man in the scarlett letter

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Scarlet Letter

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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, Roger

Chillingsworth. 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. 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, Roger

Chillingsworth becomes evil. Chillingsworth begins to feed on the sin by torturing

Dimmesdale. He constantly digs into the soul of Dimmesdale to find the evil he

suspects in him. "Then why not reveal them[the sin] here?" inquires

Chillingsworth(128). Here he again tries to get Dimmesdale to reveal his sin. He

is 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 Roger


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 

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