Sinners of the Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter, is who seems to be the guiltiest character. The three prime targets are Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. While all of them have questionable morality and have committed “sin”, Dimmesdale, the puritan minister, is the guiltiest character. He initiates a physical relationship with Hester, knowing she is married, he fails at the fatherly responsibility of taking care of his daughter, Pearl, and he selfishly cares more about himself than his secret family.
Dimmesdale does not think about the consequences of having a relationship with Hester. He understands what would happen to her, and himself, in their strict society if discovered. Being an important role model of the town, he should have controlled himself. Their relationship resulted in the birth of Hester’s daughter, Pearl. After the townspeople find out that Hester is pregnant by someone other than her husband, they force her to stand on the scaffold brandishing the scarlet letter.
While the villagers are thinking of ways to punish Hester, like burning her with a hot iron rod or even killing her, others actually feet sorry for Dimmesdale because of the scandal Hester has caused in his church. Dimmesdale, being cowardly, lets Hester take all the punishment for their actions. Hester demonstrates courage and loyalty as she never releases Dimmesdales name as the father, so the town ignorantly attacks Hester’s morals and isolates her, as if she > committed the deed by herself.
After his relationship with Hester, Dimmesdale tortures himself both mentally and physically because he feels that he has sinned against God. By burning the A into his chest, he is apologizing to his idea of God for his actions. However, he never once asks Hester or Pearl for forgiveness. Being a bastard child, Pearl’s childhood is ruined, yet he never acts as a father to Pearl or even offers to help Hester financially. He cares more about saving his own skin and making sure he is good with God than he does about his child’s well-being. gt;Dimmesdale is a complete hypocrite.
He preaches about resisting sin and temptation, while he can’t even do that himself. He is supposed to be a Puritan Society example, but follows a completely different lifestyle from what he preaches. He should have confessed his sin at the scaffold with Hester right from the start. Although it would still have been shameful, he could have, like Hester, redeemed himself in the eyes of the townspeople. Instead, he confesses everything seven years later, and dies.
Therefore, Dimmesdale is definitely the guiltiest character in The Scarlet Letter. He does not show Hester any support, and takes no responsibility for his daughter. He teaches sermons on staying away from sin, yet he is the biggest sinner of all. He fears God and goes to extreme measures to receive forgiveness from him, yet does absolutely nothing to redeem himself with Hester and Pearl. His hypocrisy, selfishness, and cowardice are what make him the most guilty character in this book.