How do Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth respond differently to the sense of sin borne in the harsh light of Puritan justice?

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writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hester gracefully accepts the judgement put on her by the people. She acknowledges her sin, and doesn't fight the public punishment given to her, in fact, she grows out of it into a stronger person, positively affecting society. Dimmesdale keeps his sin hidden, knowing that if it is brought to light, he will lose his position in the town. Dimmesdale's response is to cause his own suffering, inflicting physical punishment upon himself in secret. His continued success in the eyes of the public adds to his inward suffering. Chillinworth ignores the public sense of justice and pursues his own revenge instead. He becomes overwhelmed by a desire to harm Dimmesdale, which is his own sin to bear. Because of this, Chillingworth loses purpose and eventually his life after Dimmesdale confesses and dies.

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The Scarlet Letter

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