Nathaniel Hawthorne's dramatic novel, The Scarlet Letter, exposes the hypocrisy of a seventeenth-century Puritan society through the lives of two sinners, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne. Both have committed a sin that ultimately strengthens them. Although Dimmesdale conceals his sin from public scrutiny during the majority of his life, he undergoes a significant metamorphosis. Hawthorne utilizes the three scaffold scenes throughout the novel in order to manifest the progression of Dimmesdale from a craven, self-preserving, and religiously bound minister to a more candid and truly passionate father.
Unfortunately, Dimmesdale's positive change from a feeling of weakness and cowardice is belated; thus, he is unable to evade his intensifying guilt and prevent his ultimate death. Hawthorne manifests these characteristics of frailty through his descriptions of Dimmesdale during the first scaffold scene: "...apt to be tremulous, expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint" (59). By characterizing Dimmesdale as a man lacking courage, Hawthorne introduces the disadvantage Dimmesdale will later face-his inner struggle with hidden sin. His "self-restraint" comes from...
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Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter Essay
1578 Words7 Pages
The Scarlet LetterArthur Dimmesdale Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, proves to be a sinner against man, against God and most importantly against himself because he has committed adultery with Hester Prynne, resulting in an illegitimate child, Pearl. His sinning against himself, for which he ultimately paid the price of death, proved to be more harmful and more destructive than this sin of the flesh, and his sin against God. Socrates said, “Knowthyself,” and Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” If Reverend Dimmesdale had been true to himself he certainly wouldn’t have suffered as much as he did. What drove Dimmesdale to hold in his self-condemning truth? To…show more content…
Dimmesdale portrays himself very ironically. He is a very well respected reverend and yet, has, for the last 7 years, worked on preaching the word of God, especially while he urges the congregation to confess openly to repent unto God. While, in reality, Dimmesdale is the one whoneeds a clean conscious. He feels like he needs to confess not only to the town but also too himself. Halfway through the novel
Dimmesdale has yet to reveal the truth, which, so far, has been devouring him,physically and mentally. Since this good reverend is so spiritual, he cannot reveal his truths to the town so simply. He is of the Puritan faith and being a follower of that, the sin of adultery is a very grand sin. The whole town would look down on him as if he were a hypocrite. Which in fact, he is, but his sin of adultery in that town would have been scoffed at just as Hester’s has. The reverend is so well liked by the townsfolk that
Hawthorne states, “They fancied him the mouthpiece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom, rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified.” ( 139 ) How else can the reverend live without revealing his identity? He has been doing it for seven years, and it must be hard for him, mentally and physically. Mentally, his whole body shuts down because he cannot take it anymore, even though he does not give in to confess yet. He has become emaciated because he has let the sin against himself churn