It is often taught that the worst part of sin is not the sin itself but rather the effects of that sin on not only the sinner but also all the people around the sinner. That is why the important lesson in The Scarlet Letter is not about the sin committed by Hester Prynne and the Reverend Master Dimmesdale but more importantly about the way the sin effects, not just Hester Prynne and the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, but other characters as well, for the rest of their lives. Hester Prynne is the most obviously effected by the sin by being marked with the scarlet letter, but the less obvious effects are in her heart, soul and mind.
For the rest of her life she will have to wear not only the scarlet letter on the outside, but also on the inside feeling forever guilty about the sin she had committed. But Hester Prynne, unlike her partner in sin the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, was able to partially over come her guilt and live a somewhat secluded life in peace. The Reverend Master Dimmesdale was unable to overcome his guilt because, unlike Hester Prynne, he had to hide it.
Until the very last hour of his life the Reverend Master Dimmesdale could not confess to the sin and was forced to hold all his guilt in his heart, where with the help of the flaming touch of Mr. Roger Chillingworth, it burned in his chest slowly destroying the Reverend Master Dimmesdale’s health to the point of his death. Mr. Roger Chillingworth, husband of Hester Prynne, was also effected in a great way by the sin committed by Hester Prynne and the Master Reverend Dimmesdale. Mr. Roger Chillingworth was not completely surprised to find out his wife had cheated on him. She had made it known before their marriage that she felt no love for him. However he was shocked that she refused to tell him who the man was.
He swore he would find who the man was. And so began the effects of the sin on Mr. Roger Chillingworth. He was overcome by evil and dedicated his sole being to finding out that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale was the man and then making him suffer for the sin he had committed. He had so dedicated his life to this one goal that shortly after the Reverend Master Dimmesdale confessed to the sin and died, he too died for lack of a reason to live. Perhaps the most innocent victim of the sin would be little Pearl. She was very obviously affected by the sin.
She only existed because of it. She was also doomed to live as a witch for the first seven years of her life, until the Reverend Master Dimmesdale confessed on the same scaffold that she and her mother had stood seven years earlier. It is clear that the worst part about sin is the effects it has on everyone and if there is one good lesson in this book it is not that man should not marry a woman who does not love him but rather that the only way to overcome the horrible effects of sin is to come clean and confess and accept your punishment.
I believe of all the characters of The Scarlet Letter that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale is the greatest sinner. After all he was as guilty as Hester Prynne in the sin but yet he still had the nerve to vigorously interrogate her in public at the scaffold pleading with her to name the man, when he knew well that she could not and would not tell who he was. Futher more he would not confess for the rest of his life to the sin leaving Hester Prynne to suffer the guilt alone.