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Chilling Sins

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Chilling Sins

Sin is considered something highly immoral, a despicable act that defies divine law. Anyone who commits a sin is regarded as a serious offender of that which is pure. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne left it to the reader to determine who was the real wrongdoer in the novel. Was it the adulterous Hester Prynne, or the hypocritical Arthur Dimmesdale, or the revenge obsessed Roger Chillingworth? Puritan belief tells us it should be Hester Prynne, because she was a weak-willed woman who broke the vow given to her husband and conceived a child with someone else. However, Hawthorne declares Chillingworth as the greatest sinner because he left his wife alone, lied to the community, betrayed the trust of his patient as a friend and a doctor, and clutched revenge too fondly to his heart.

Before Chillingworth ever was the man after so many turns of events, he had been Master Prynne, happy bridegroom to Hester. Knowing his wife did not love him, he strove to please her, yet at once forgot about his duty as a husband to “...dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7 KJV) and sent her to take care of his lands in Boston. This would have been slightly acceptable if he had promised to come to her in the very next passage after completing some important affairs, but that was not the case. The man, so used to being alone, preferred two more years of research in alchemy and sciences before finally reaching his wife, only to find her holding the child of some unknown man. Therefore, it is not completely her burden that she committed adultery then, for it was he that set the stage for this crime, slacking off as husband to his wife. Whatever sin she must bear, he equally bears it. He even says it himself. “Mine was the first wrong...between thee and me, the scale hangs fairly balanced” (Hawthorne 72).

After being lost for so long, the first thing Mr. Prynne does as he enters the community is shy away from his true title. He gives up the name and is born anew as Roger Chillingworth, physician and newcomer in Boston. At once, the people take this as the truth and welcome him with open arms, not knowing they invite a serpent, caring only for his prey, into their midst. This is the another stab in the many he made to the Puritan faith because it says in the Bible, “Ye are of your father the devil...for he is a liar, and father of it.” (James 8:44 KJV) and any faithful Puritan would have tried his hardest not to follow in his “father’s” footsteps. He continually lies, keeping a good name while hobnobbing with the respected elders of Salem until his death, even then being laid into the earth under the name of Chillingworth.

His next step into the bowels of sin came just as he stepped through the door of Dimmesdale’s abode. The man had accepted Chillingworth as a friend and as his doctor. He even let him reside in his

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