In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter many aspects of evil and sin are reflected through the characters Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth made their own choice of being a sinner and being evil. Therefore, that is what Hawthorne believed to be the definition of evil and sin; an individual chooses to do an action that is considered sinful. Although Dimmesdale and Chillingworth both portray evil and sin they portray it in two completely different forms. Dimmesdale is shown as being a secret sinner throughout the novel, but with the evil torturing that he receives from Chillingworth and himself it drives him to the point where he then becomes a public sinner. It is better for an individual to confess their sin than to bury it deep down.
Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister, has had an affair (which he chose to do) with Chillingworth’s wife and he can’t come to the point where he can confess his sin to the public. Therefore, he is a secret sinner. By being this secret sinner Dimmesdale begins to physically and mentally break down. He begins to emotionally and physically beat himself up, “he whipped himself, starved himself as an act of penance until his knees trembled beneath him, and stayed up all night having long vigils and sometimes having visions” (Hawthorne 96). Dimmesdale’s sin has caught up with him and it is affecting his present along with his future; his secret sin is eating him up. He is beating himself up because he has kept it locked inside of him when he should have openness about his sin. Hester has openness about the sin they committed together, and it is not eating her up like it is eating up Dimmesdale. Not only has Dimmesdale been beating himself up, literally, over his sin, but he is also receiving torture from Chillingworth. Chillingworth has chosen to become this evil person towards Dimmesdale, mentally getting into his brain and making him feel even more paranoid about his sin. Chillingworth hints to Dimmesdale that he should reveal his sin and that he shouldn’t bury it deep inside of him any longer. Therefore, Chillingworth knows that Dimmesdale is so sick because his sin is buried inside of him; his hypocrisy is eating him away:
They are new to me. I found them growing on a grave, which bore no tomb-stone, nor other memorial of the dead man, save these ugly weeds, that have taken upon themselves to keep him in remembrance. They grew out of his heart, and typify, it may be, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime (Hawthorne 87).
Although while Dimmesdale is beating himself up over his sin and becoming tortured he is performing immaculate sermons based upon sin. Dimmesdale can’t deal with sin himself because he is weak, but he can teach others about how sinning is shameful. He realized that he is the worst sinner ever, but yet he still is a private sinner. His public face and his private face are completely...