In the Scarlet Letter, where in the text can you find evidence for Hawthorne's opinion about which he thinks is worse: the sin of adultery or the sin of revenge?

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne does express his ideas about sin and revenge.  In Chapter 17, Hester tells him about Chillingworth.  At first, he is very angry with her, but when he calms down, he tells her he forgives her.  His opinion of Chillingworth, however, is a different story.  He says: “That old man's revenge has been blacker than my sin. He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of a human heart. Thou and I, Hester, never did so!"   This reveals to the reader that Hawthorne sees the violation of Dimmesdale’s heart, solely for the purpose of revenge, to be a blacker sin than the sin of adultery.

If one thinks of revenge, one can understand what Hawthorne is trying to get across.  In order to get revenge on someone, there has to be planning. There has to be consideration, and there has to be intention.  Someone who plans to get revenge is committing a sin with the intention to hurt someone else.  Hester and Dimmesdale, though they committed the sin of adultery, did not intentionally set out to hurt anyone.

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