Abasement In Scarlet Letter

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Frequently, people are too harsh on themselves and try their best to take matters into their own hands to solve personal problems: rather than seek the help of others in fear of the repercussion that may come along with revealing their inner selves, many would rather punish themselves in hope to feel better about the situation. Indeed personal abasement by one’s own guilt is much more detrimental and degrading than the shame of what others may see. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, the reader encountered characters who dealt with various situations in many diverse ways. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of the story, dealt with her condition by resulting to isolation and hard work to win back what she had so helplessly lost, citizenship. …show more content…

Furthermore, Roger Chillingworth, Dimmesdale’s physician, decided to take a more violent way in solving his problems and turned to his black alchemy and torture. Through these characters’ hardships, the reader will further understand that self discipline, as a consequence of one’s guilt, is considerably more detrimental to one’s self compared to the shame others may regard.
In the beginning of the novel, Hester Prynne committed a very wrongful sin of the time period, adultery. She was shunned from the community and labeled as an adulterer or one who is unfaithful to his or her spouse. As a result Hester was forced to wear the letter A, otherwise known as the Scarlet Letter, upon her bosom. The scarlet letter later became part of Hester’s dignity and identity. As another form of her punishment, she was bored to the scaffold to stand in front of all people but “without undergoing the gripe and confinement of the head” (Hawthorne 53). Hawthorne’s words imply that Hester stood on the platform to be shamed by the people, but did not have to face the guillotine. One might ponder if Hester was favored in her …show more content…

As the priest, Dimmesdale was meant to be identified as a strong and holy man but rather in the opposite, he sinned and lived his life in solitude. Dimmesdale decided it was best to punish himself, rather than stand in front of the people and take their shame, therefore he commenced to torment himself. He did so by “wielding a bloody scourge” (134), which was used to whip himself. Dimmesdale purposefully tortured himself to the point of bleeding because it allowed him feel as if he was justifying his prior wrongdoings. Dimmesdale continued this self inducing pain throughout the novel until his physical health could not take it any longer. This makes one speculate if Dimmesdale’s self abuse truly did in fact justify for his sins or not. Because of the prolonged torture, the clergyman had now reduced to the point that “his nerve seemed absolutely destroyed” and “his moral force was abased into childish weakness”(144). By the description of Dimmesdale and his appearance, one can easily recognize that Dimmesdale’s self punishments have taken a major toile on his body and mentality, proving once again that self punishment is more harmful and demeaning than others’

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