The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne is a romantic novel that is set in Boston during the Puritan era. Hester Prynne, a seamstress, has an affair with Arthur Dimmesdale, the town’s beloved minister. Roger Chillingworfth, the husband of Hester, which nobody in town is aware of, seeks revenge on Dimmesdale after finding out the truth about the crime. Chillingworth’s actions are made in response to the sins of Hester and Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale each commit a sin of passion with each other because they sinned out of love for each other. Chillingworth commits a sin of intellect because he uses his intelligence to torture Dimmesdale. Hawthorne views the sin of intellect to be a worse sin compared to the sin of passion. The comparison between sin of passion and sin of intellect throughout the novel clearly demonstrates that the sin of intellect is the most severe sin.
The sins of Hester and Dimmesdale motivate their passion for each other and affect both other and themselves. First, Hester and Dimmesdale’s motivation to stay in town is caused by their values. At first, Hester wants to leave town, but she realizes that she has stay so that she can take care of Pearl and the town is where her punishment should be. Dimmesdale’s motivation not to confess his sins is a sign for his love for Hester. Although Dimmesdale goes through great pain and misery from his guilt of his sins he does not share his sins which verify that his love for Hester is greater than his guilt. Next, Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin affects others by making others treat them differently. After wearing her scarlet letter for a few years, Hester becomes respected in town because she helps others such as making clothes for the poor. Hester learns from her sin and does good deeds which makes her become more welcome in town. Dimmesdale is affected by his sin by having his sermons improve which makes the townspeople adore him. The townspeople “deemed the young clergyman a miracle of holiness. They fancied him the mouthpiece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom and rebuke and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified” (139; ch. 11). Lastly, Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin affects them by making them different over time. Hester reluctantly becomes a better person because she knows what it is like to sin so she doesn’t make the same mistakes. On the other hand, Dimmesdale slowly wears away because of his guilt. Overall, the effects of Hester and Dimmesdale’s sin have a major impact on the town and change the town opinion on them.
Chillingworth sins because of Hester and Dimmesdale passion for each other. For starters, the sin of Chillingworth is motivated by his intellect and affects both him and the people around him. First, Chillingworth’s motivation for sin derives on the knowledge of Dimmesdale’s mistakes. Chillingworth vows to make the father of Pearl be known to the public so that the sinner can be punished. He says to Hester, “But he will be known! –he will be known!-he will be known!” (69; ch. 3). He also is relentless and does anything he can to never stop torturing Dimmesdale. An instance of this is when he requests to board on the ship to Europe with Dimmesdale when he finds out that Dimmesdale and Hester will attempt to flee. Next, Chillingworth’s sin effects Hester and Dimmesdale because he makes them suffer. It affects Dimmesdale because it causes him to slowly die because he is constantly reminded of his sin by Chillingworth. It also affects Hester because she tries to protect Dimmesdale from Chillingworth’s wrath by fleeing to Europe. Lastly, Chillingworth’s sin affects himself because he becomes addicted with punishing Dimmesdale. His actions eventually turn him into a fiend because of all of the evil deeds he does. He even recognizes that he has become a fiend and says to Hester” I have already told you what I am! A fiend! Who made me so?” (166; ch.14). He is so obsessed with