Hypocrisy Revealed In The Scarlett Letter

1340 words - 6 pages

The Scarlet Letter is suffused with hypocrisy. Almost every one of the characters in the book represent an element of hypocrisy. Reverend Dimmsdale, Chillingworth and, most of all, the Puritan society, all exhibit duplicity. Reverend Dimmsdale demonstrated hypocrisy by not telling the full truth of the sins that he had committed. Chillingworth proved himself to be a hypocrite because although he was a doctor he inflicted harm upon Chillingworth rather than healing and only cared about revenge. Most of all the Puritans showed themselves to be hypocrites because they acted as if they never sinned. They judge Hester extremely harsh for her sin and yet were still willing to associate with her for the sake of vanity. Everything in The Scarlet Letter is covered with a layer of hypocrisy and evil.
Both Hester and Dimmsdale knew that the secret they had should be revealed. However, neither of them had the courage to tell the truth. Dimmsdale wanted Hester to reveal him as the father of her child. He said to her, “What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him,—yea, compel him, as it were—to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee, and the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him—who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself—the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!” Basically, Dimmsdale is telling her that by not exposing him as the adulterer, she is compelling him to be a hypocrite and she is denying him the chance to have the truth revealed. Dimmsdale portrays the ultimate hypocrisy by making this statement. If he wants the truth to be told so badly then he should reveal it himself. By blaming Hester for his hypocrisy he is being a hypocrite himself, and that's not the only way he shows himself to be a hypocrite. Every Sunday Dimmsdale preached to the community against sin and yet he was, according to the people of that day, the biggest sinner of all. Sure, he dropped subtle hints once in a while to let everyone know that he was a sinner as well, but what did that really accomplish? The people thought he was just a humble preacher who could do no wrong.
Then we have Chillingworth. Chillingworth was a completely evil character in the book, some sources have even said that he represented the devil. Perhaps he did, but nevertheless, he was a hypocrite. Chillingworth was a doctor. Being a doctor and a scholar, he was expected to be the type of guy who would heal people and care for people. Although he was expected to care for people because he took on the identity of a doctor, the truth was that he tried to harm. Chillingworth's only goal throughout the whole book is to get revenge. He is terribly angry at Hester for her sin and vows to find the adulterer and kill him. Hester recognizes Chillingworth's hypocritical ways. She says, "Thy acts are like mercy... but thy words interpret thee as a...

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