Chillingworth Is The Greatest Sinner In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

958 words - 4 pages

Chillingworth is the Greatest Sinner in The Scarlet Letter

The world of Puritan New England, like the world of today, was filled with many evil influences. Many people were able to withstand temptation, but some fell victim to the dark side. Such offences against God, in thought, word, deed, desire or neglect, are what we define as sin (Gerber 14).

 

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the reader is able to observe how one sin devastates three lives. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth are all guilty of succumbing to temptation, anger, and desire, causing all to fit the definition of a sinner. Yet, Chillingworth's iniquities raise him up above Hester and Dimmesdale on the level of diabolic acts.

 

From the very moment Chillingworth is introduced, he is deceitful towards the Puritan society. Chillingworth appears in the novel, seeming to know nothing of the scene at the scaffold. He asks of a townsperson: "...who is this woman? - and wherefore is she here to set up to public shame?" (Hawhtorne 67). Yet, we find in the next chapter that he indeed knows who Hester is, because Chillingworth is the lawful husband of her. He decieves the people of Boston to avoid the humiliation his wife brought upon him. In this respect, Chillingworth sins against the eight commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour" (Gerber 26).

 

Now, one could state that Hester also sins against the eighth commandment. She never reveals the name of her daughter's father. And it is stated that one must always tell the truth. Yet, it also states that one must keep a secret whenever asked to do so, and not say anything to damage another's reputation (Gerber 27). So Hester, in fact, did not sin. She never denies that Dimmesdale was the father of Pearl. She also could not admit the truth because she would break a promise to Dimmesdale and damage his reputation. Dimmesdale also may be accused of this crime, but likewise, he never outwardly states that he was not the father of this child, he merely chooses to remain silent on the matter.

 

While Chillingworth is guilty of breaking the eighth commandment, he also breaks the fifth commandment "You shall not kill" (Gerber 24). It fact that Chillingworth did not directly kill anyone in the novel. Nevertheless, a serious act of anger or hatred is considered a sin under this commandment (Gerber 25). Chillingworth takes up residence with the Reverend Dimmesdale to care for his sickly heart. However, he uses this opportunity to punish the minister. Chillingworth becomes "a chief actor in the poor minister's interior world" (Hawthorne 137). This gives him the ability to make the minister suffer both mental and physical agony. Is the intention to punish another in anger not an act of hatred? Is causing a man to suffer emotionally and physically not a way of...

Find Another Essay On Chillingworth is the Greatest Sinner in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

The Pillory in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

652 words - 3 pages description exemplifies the heinous sense of justice of the Puritans. It reflects and firmly establishes the outrage against human nature of which the Puritans are guilty. All of the ugly and immoral practices of their society are replicated in the pillory, and its very existence is a defiance of that which is good and natural. Through this defiance, justice cannot truly be achieved to the fullest extent.   Works Cited 1.  Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  The Scarlet Letter. The Cornwall Press, inc., Cornwall, New York. 1948.

The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

894 words - 4 pages The Scaffold Scenes in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne?s The Scarlet Letter, the Puritans constantly look down upon sinners like Hester Prynne, both literally and symbolically. The use of the three scaffold scenes throughout the course of the novel proved to be an effective method in proving this theory and showing how Puritan society differs from that of today?s. In the first scaffold scene, Hester is

Light and Darkness in the Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"

757 words - 3 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is one of the most analyzed and most discussed literary works in American literature and for good reason. Hawthorne's ambiguity and his intense use of symbols have made this work incredibly complex and incredibly bothersome. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses many symbols to give insight into characters and promote his views on society. The scaffold scenes in The Scarlet Letter tell the

Justice Explored in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1034 words - 4 pages Justice Explored in The Scarlet Letter   Nathaniel Hawthorne created themes in The Scarlet Letter just as significant as the obvious ideas pertaining to sin and Puritan society. Roger Chillingworth is a character through which one of these themes resonates, and a character that is often underplayed in analysis. His weakness and path of destruction of himself and others are summed up in one of Chillingworth's last sentences in the

Symbols and Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1243 words - 5 pages Symbols in The Scarlet Letter      In nearly every work of literature, readers can find symbols that represent feelings, thoughts or ideas within the text.  Such symbols can be found in The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Hawthorne's book about an affair between a woman named Hester and a minister named Arthur Dimmmesdale is full of feelings of sin, guilt, hate, secrecy, and honesty.  There are many symbols within the novel

Pearl's Life Without Shame in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1217 words - 5 pages was the cause of a large part of Hester's humiliation and the transformation of her life to that of a sinner and outcast. The final and most emotionally damaging discovery was that Dimmesdale's love did not openly equal the amount of love and passion that Hester had for him. In Ernest Sandeen's "The Scarlet Letter as a Love Story", he attempted to explain how Hester's love was the strongest force in the novel, holding her back from fleeing

Dealing With Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

732 words - 3 pages realistic in the sense that she didn't have to hide her past and was able to use her guilt to help others. Arthur Dimmesdale's approach to his guilt could almost be considered selfish because he refused to tell the truth to save his name and life. In reviewing the actions of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, it is apparent that the means in which guilt was handled brought either personal prosperity or decay. Ultimately, this was probably Nathaniel Hawthorne's objective when he created differing personalities between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter.

Sin and Punishment in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1671 words - 7 pages representation of sin, honesty, and in the end redemption. Her character is extremely complex because her symbolism changes throughout the novel. Her development shows the progression of various themes. Pearl introduces themes of sin, acknowledgment of those sins, and finally acceptance of those sins. Hawthorne introduces her as merely a symbol, but then transforms her into a human of flesh and blood. Pearl’s character is one of the most important characters in because of her complex symbolism and the various functions she provides in the novel. Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.

Reverend Dimmesdale's Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

841 words - 3 pages The Guilt of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter   God does not like the sin of adultery. He does not like lying. He does not like hypocrisy. There are two roads that one can choose. In the end, what may seem like the easy way may have far greater consequences than the hard way. Arthur Dimmesdale chose the easy path and learned that the pain of guilt is far greater than the pain of shame.   From the start, Dimmesdale did not

The Righteous Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1213 words - 5 pages The Strong and Righteous Hester of The Scarlet Letter     "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us," stated Oliver Wendell Holmes. This eventually proves to be especially true for Hester Prynne, the main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Hester Prynne, a fair young maiden whose husband had disappeared two years prior to the opening of the novel, has an affair with

The Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1942 words - 8 pages The Themes of The Scarlet Letter        The Scarlet Letter is a romantic novel, mainly because it is a long, fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary events.  Unfolding over a seven year period, we are treated to the heroism of Hester Prynne and her adulterous beloved, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and the mysterious actions and behavior of their love child, Pearl, and the witch, Mistress Hibbins.  The story is set against the

Similar Essays

Sin In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2142 words - 9 pages      Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment.  The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed             Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie.  He stands before Hester and the rest of the town and proceeds to give a moving speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to

Passion In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1371 words - 5 pages in every relationship is what side the coin will land on. Works Cited Easton, Alison. “A Critique of Puritan Society.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 114-126 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Signet Classics Edition. New York: New American Library, 1999. Thrailkill, Jane F. “The Doctor and the Minister.” From Studies in

Individualism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1065 words - 4 pages Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

1605 words - 6 pages – Hester representing the repentant sinner, Dimmesdale the half-repentant sinner, and Chillingworth the unrepentant sinner” (149). Trying to assign finite meanings to Hawthorne's characters is folly. He did not intend his players to be static symbols trapped in the unbending walls of some religious man's parable. Much like he fictionalized the events of finding the scarlet letter in “The Customs House” in order to lend a historical essence to his