Evil in the Scarlet Letter

1110 WordsOct 8, 19995 Pages
One belief that people live by is that evil is the nature of mankind, yet there are others that feel man has good intentions but those intentions can be overrun by the devil. Nathaniel Hawthorne points out that the former is true of all people in the novel The Scarlet Letter. In this novel, there are three main characters who commit evil and sinful acts, but each act is at a different degree of sinfulness (i.e. the sins get worse as the story goes a-long). These three sinners, in the eyes of the Puritan community, are the beautiful Hester Prynne, the esteemed Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and the cold-hearted doctor, Roger Chillingworth. Like Hawthorne, I believe that evil is the nature of man but that there are different magnitudes of evil;…show more content…
Midway through the novel the audience's view of the character changes dramatically. The major turning point is when we find out to what extent Chillingworth will go through to find personal information about his patient, Dimmesdale. Hawthorne describes it as "The physician advanced directly in front of his patient, laid his hand upon his bosom, and thrust aside the vestment, that, hitherto, had always covered it even from the professional eye."(Ch.10 p.121) Chillingworth really commits two major sins. His first sin is against Hester. He committed it when he married her and took away her youth; he admits: "Mine was the first wrong, when I betrayed thy budding youth into a false and unnatural relation with my decay."(Ch.4 p.68-69) Chillingworth's second, and far more evil sin, is tricking the heart of a fellow man and sacrificing a friendship to gratify his own selfishness. What Chillingworth does is befriend the good Reverend and become his doctor. Chillingworth notices that something more than physical is wrong with him. He starts to dig deeper and deeper until he finds what he is looking for, but not without destroying Dimmesdale's life even more. As Chillingworth probes farther into Dimmesdale's life, he resembles the devil more and more. Hawthorne illustrates this event when he remarks, "Now, there was something ugly and
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