The Scarlet Letter- Who was the Worst Sinner? | Teen Ink

The Scarlet Letter- Who was the Worst Sinner?

April 5, 2013
By Arya4Eragon PLATINUM, Jonesboro, Arkansas
Arya4Eragon PLATINUM, Jonesboro, Arkansas
20 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Without life there is still faith, but without faith there is no life." -SJB


Although Hawthorne’s work The Scarlet Letter holds several imperfect people as the main characters, including Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Roger Chillingworth, the worst sinner is Arthur Dimmesdale. As a minister, he knows the town people look up to him as a saintly hero. Even though he is aware of the fact that Hester Prynne is married, he still chooses to commit adultery with her, causing Pearl to be born and Hester to be publicly shamed. Hawthorne purposefully created Dimmesdale to be the personification of human frailty and sorrow.

Dimmesdale’s sin is worse than Hester’s sin because Hester's sin is opened up to the world. She accepts her punishment as it is thrown at her, and sees the scarlet letter as a chance to grow. Later, she learns that it defines her as a person, although not in the negative way in which the townspeople might have hoped. Dimmesdale on the other hand, keeps his sin hidden from the world, known only to himself. When given the chance to admit his sin, he opts instead to hide, tortured by his guilt, rather than allow anyone to learn of his imperfection.

It takes him seven years, in which his guilt drains his life bit by bit until he’s but a shadow of a man, to admit his shame. Meanwhile, he continues to preach the importance of repentance and forgiveness, therefore adding hypocrisy and deceit to his sin. When Dimmesdale finally does admit his sin to the public, it’s only in response to the knowledge of his upcoming death.



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