We know from his reference to the doorway to hell that occupied Chillingworth’s eyes that Hawthorne knew his Bunyan, but there is a more subtle commonality running between the two.
Bunyan’s work is full of Sins. Personified Sins, no less. And yet, no sin is ever described in detail. We didn’t spend lots of time with Wanton or Madame Bubble, but instead heard only of their affects on the Faithful and Standfast souls they attacked . I think that Bunyan knew that to dwell too long on evil was to glorify it and make it attractive.
The same is true for Hawthorne’s treatment of adultery. He wanted us to sympathize with Hester, and possibly even Dimmesdale, but I don’t believe he wanted us to sympathize with Adultery. The capital A marks it as a personified sin, much like those encountered on Christian’s journey, and as in the Pilgrimage we see only the effects that Sin has on all that it touches. We can hurt for those whose lives have been forever changed by the dark misdeed, but we cannot love Adultery itself. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Nicely done, guys.