The Scarlet Letter- Effects of Adultery.
Puritan society had placed great importance on a person's reputation. Without an honorable reputation a person is not worthy of respect from others in their society. Characters in this novel go through their lives struggling with themselves and trying to cope with the guilt and shame associated with their actions. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, "The Scarlet Letter," he shows the lasting effect that adultery has on Chillingworth Dimmesdale, and Hester.
Roger Chillingworth's first reaction to the crime of adultery committed by Hester is one of shock, but he quickly suppresses it. This suppression makes Chillingworth become obsessed with vengeance. He destroyed Rev. Dimmesdale's life by torturing him with his analogies and indirect stories. He also destroyed his own life because these vengeful actions soon turned him into the one thing he hated the most, a fiend. As a physician, he was well respected, but his fiendish acts of hatred towards the minister turned him into a demon of some sort.
Arthur Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie. He stands before Hester and the rest of the town to give a speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to reveal the father's name (p.63). Though he never actually says that he is not the other parent, he implies it by talking of the father in third person (p.63). Such as, "If thou feelest it to be for thy soul's peace, and that thy earthly punishment will thereby be made more effectual to salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer" (p.63). Lying clearly proved that Dimmesdale was afraid of the justice and the shame that would follow him if he confessed. He thought that if no one knew, he could continue with his life normally. Yet, he began punishing himself secretly. Slowly though, the sin began to nag at him, and he had to beat himself to sooth his conscience.