Sin - An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. Adultery and Revenge. Three Characters – Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Roger Chillingworth Hester and Dimmesdale – Adultery Chillingworth - Revenge
Hester – Unfaithful to her husband. “Yonder woman, Sir, as you know is the wife of a certain learned man, English by birth……Being left to her own misguidance...”. Hester and her child contrasted with mother mary and baby Jesus – ch 2 – making them the symbol of sin. Dimmesdale – Coveting another man’s wife – a priest of holy orders. Chillingworth – His unquenchable desire for revenge.
Hester - Punished in public – The scarlet letter, 3 hrs on the scaffold and secluded for the rest of her life. “….SCARLET LETTER….It had the effect of a spell, taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and inclosing her in a sphere by herself.” The child, Pearl – “ She is my happiness! – she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold the power of retribution for my sin?”
Dimmesdale – Punished by the very torment he feels in his soul. “He bears no infamy wrought into his garment, as thou dost: but I shall read it in his heart.” “What can thy silence do for him- yea, compel him, as it were- to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy,…….Take heed how thou deniest him – who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself - the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!” Final retribution – his confession. Hester and Dimmesdale did not have a “sinless conscience”.
Chillingworth – the change in him “ A mortal man, with once a heart, ( Chillingworth) has become a fiend for his( Dimmesdale’s) especial torment!”.
Hester and Dimmesdale – shown as saintly towards the end Reason – Accept their punishment - their untiring endeavour to seek God’s forgiveness and to life a good life as much as possible. Hester – “ I hear good things of you on all hands” Dimmesdale – hailed as a great clergyman by all the people in the town. Chillingworth- existed only by “the perpetual poison of the direst revenge”- hence treated as the personification of the Devil himself – After the death of Dimmesdale he is so reduced “ his vital and intellectual force” deserted him and he died within a year.
The guilty – punished. “In the view of infinite purity, were are all sinners alike. It was to teach them, that the holiest among us has but attained so far above his fellows as to discern more clearly the Mercy which looks down, and repudiate ( reject) more utterly the phantom ( vision or illusion) of human merit, which would looks aspiringly upwards.”