Arthur Dimmesdale's Moral Development In Scarlet Letter

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In 1964, Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist introduced the idea that humans evolved through different stages of morality. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne male characters exemplify a moral development as the story unfolds. In particular, Arthur Dimmesdale’s morality differs from the beginning of the novel to the ending of the novel. His morality undergoes continuity and change by constantly changing from selfishness, social order, and social contract.
Dimmesdale undergoes the morality maintaining the social order and being considerate of others to eventually being selfish and only thinks about himself. For instance, in Chapter 3 while Hester is up on the scaffold in front of society as a consequence for her sin of adultery, …show more content…

This remark implies that Dimmesdale’s morality revolves around his self-conscience and what is right and wrong in the eyes of society and his social status as a clergymen. He demands Hester to exploit him for his actions in taking part of the adultery scenario with Hester. With respect to Kohlberg’s level of moral reasoning, he is at stage 4 “Maintaining the Social Order” for risking his entire reputation as a respected man in society over the action of one sin. Then, in Chapter 10 by now most of the Puritan society built suspicion of Chillingworth as a devil seeking to take ill Dimmesdale's soul. Since Chillingworth was first seen god like for his knowledge in medical care, he was truly valued by the Puritan society. While both Chillingworth and Dimmesdale were living together so Chillingworth can conduct laboratorial exams, the narrator makes …show more content…

Now, in Chapter 12 after dealing with Chillingworth's remarks and hate towards Dimmesdale, he is evidently fed up with his presence. As he, Hester, and Pearl are on the scaffold and Pearl points towards Chillingsworth. He makes this remark toward Hester, “ ‘Who is that man, Hester?’...’I shiver at him! Dost thou know the man? I hate him, Hester!’ “(Hawthorne 109). His moral stage continues to be at stage 1 “Obedience and Punishment Orientation” because his selfishness still makes an overall reflection on his personality. He is more concerned about his own feelings than everyone around him opposed to his morality at the beginning of the novel. He expresses signs of jealousy because Pearl called out for him. Next, at the beginning of Chapter 18 after Hester has declared to Dimmesdale that Chillingworth is her real husband and he becomes upset, eventually he forgives her and sees Chillingworth as the real sinner. The narrator states, "Arthur Dimmesdale gazed into Hester's face with a look in which hope and joy shone out, indeed, but with fear betwixt them, and a kind of horror at her boldness, who had spoken what he vaguely hinted at, but dared not to speak" (Hawthorne 138). Nevertheless, his moral development continuously stays at Stage 1 "Obedience and Punishment Orientation" because yet again his actions are selfish. He is more considerate about his

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