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Scarlet Letter Essay

988 words - 4 pages

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. -Isaiah 64:6 Everyone sins, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter, Created characters representing forms of sin that everyone commits either consciously or unconsciously.The bible makes it known that we can get swept up in our lives and emotions and this is the cause of sin, Chillingsworth did just this throughout the book.

Chillingworth is the personification of purposeful sin rather than subconscious sin.As the book continues he conciously get wrapped up more and more in his prolific needs for knowing the father and exacting his judgement upon them regardless of the spiritual and actual consequences. A quote that illustrates his physical change-“A change had come over his features,—how much uglier they were,—how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen,—since the days when she had familiarly known him.”(Hawthorne 102) As stated, Chillingworth's appearance becomes more disheveled, dark and dirty from when Hester had known him-to appear more like the sin he embodies. A clear physical representation of the sin manifesting itself in and on him. His infamy in conscious sin is known by the townspeople and they avoid and speak ill of him accordingly. He is aware the he is sinning, yet it doesn't seem to change his mindset as he continues his goal of destroying the reverend."We are not, Hester, the worst sinners in the world. There is one worse than even the polluted priest! That old man's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!" (Hawthorne 175) Chillingsworth, in this passage, outright states his culpability in conscious sinning, yet seems to attempt to console himself and Hester, albeit in a twisted way, by saying Dimmesdale’s sin is greater than theirs, all the while acknowledging the fact that he did, and continues to sin.

While Chillingworth is unmitigated evil, Hester’s symbolistic sin is what happens when sin is revealed and repented for and how the ‘pure’ people integrate the sinner into society[or don't]. She asked god for forgiveness, both in the continued wearing of the Scarlet Letter, and through actual pitinance. "Thou shalt forgive me!" cried Hester, flinging herself on the fallen leaves beside [Dimmesdale]. "Let God punish! Thou shalt forgive!" (Hawthorne, 175) In this message to Dimmesdale she pleads for him to forgive her, stating that the Lord will punish her thoroughly and it need not be him. Her thoughts throughout the book reflect that she is not quite Puritan, for she thinks if she deals with both gods punishment and that administered by mortals, she...

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