Compare And Contrast Dimmesdale And Chillingworth

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TSL Final Paper In the Scarlet Letter, both men in Hester’s life, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth, have complex motivations for the actions in which they partake throughout the novel. These motivations are mostly driven by sin; an archaic and taboo subject, especially in Puritanical New England, the setting for the story. Both Chillingworth and Dimmesdale have a tumultuous relationship with sin and have varying ideals of what sin itself is and how one should repent for enacting sin. They also have very different motivations derived from sin which is the driving force behind their decisions. Dimmesdale and Chillingworth have rather polarizing opinions on sin. Dimmesdale, as a Reverend, has a much more traditional view …show more content…

The societal view on sin in Puritanical colonial Massachusetts was that sin was inevitable, but should be avoided as often as possible and when committed should be repented for. Sin was going directly against the word of God and, based on the severity of the sin, it could possibly determine one’s place in the afterlife. Dimmesdale knows full well what is and isn’t sin, being a Reverend in Boston. Dimmesdale is tasked with dealing with others’ sins on a daily basis, and often has to help sinners repent. It is easy then to predict that Dimmesdale cares about sin when it comes to others as well, and might have empathy for the sinners despite the sins the enact. He knows what the sinners that come to him did wrong. However, Dimmesdale might not always agree with what society has ruled as sin. Dimmesdale, through his work with other sinners, has grasped the concept of humanity very thoroughly, and has …show more content…

He puts Hester in a no-win situation by questioning her like this. If she exposes him, he loses everything and becomes a social outcast but is released from his moral burden. Staying silent, however, keeps Dimmesdale in his position of power but also prolongs his suffering and misery. His selfish attitude towards his atonement is at odds with his otherwise cool and collected countenance, showcasing a very scared and vulnerable individual. Chillingworth, like Dimmesdale, also believes that sinners should be held accountable and atone for their actions. However, this is where the similarities in their mindsets end. While Dimmesdale would plead for compassion for sinners, Chillingworth would rather publicly condemn and deface them. He often speaks of how Dimmesdale will one day face the consequences for his actions, but leaves the ghastly details of his plan for exposure mostly unknown. Chillingworth wants Dimmesdale, the sinner, to suffer to the extent that his will to continue living is destroyed and, when he’s at his lowest, unmask him publicly. In his plot of vengeance, Chillingworth wants to systematically destroy the Reverend, not allowing him the closure of outing himself to the public. This cruel and unusual punishment shows just how far the infidelity of his wife has pushed him over the limit, possibly into the realm of

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