In this book, Hawthorne details an elaborate story showing the consequences of confessing sins in contrast to concealing it. A sin weighing down on you and destroying you from the inside out is a moral consequence and, the only remedy is confessing the sin. This notion can be seen in the difference between Hester and Dimmesdale with how they handled the scarlet letter and the effects of that. Hester had worn her scarlet letter out for the public to see from the very beginning. She the subject of a lot of the town’s scrutiny.
He puts Hester in a no-win situation by questioning her like this. If she exposes him, he loses everything and becomes a social outcast but is released from his moral burden. Staying silent, however, keeps Dimmesdale in his position of power but also prolongs his suffering and misery. His selfish attitude towards his atonement is at odds with his otherwise cool and collected countenance, showcasing a very scared and vulnerable individual.
Mentally, his guilt strains his mind, which causes his physical deterioration, and the weakening of his body. As Dimmesdale finally admits his sin to the townspeople, his guilt is lifted, and he is able to release himself from his captivity. Though he deteriorated both mind and body from his guilt, by telling the townspeople of his sin, it was as if “a spell was broken” (238). He no longer needed to force himself to hide his sin, which was what was hurting him. By finally dealing with his sin in a similar way to Hester, Dimmesdale was able to free himself of his self-imposed captivity and
Dimmesdale’s True Colors Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, also the father of Hester’s child, showed prominent parts of his character throughout the story. The first trait the reader becomes aware of is Dimmesdale’s cowardice. He has no intentions of revealing his sin to the public, due to how highly he is seen in the community’s eyes. Remorse, or guilt, is another term that can be associated with Dimmesdale, growing increasingly more prominent as the novel goes on. Cowardice, a lacking of bravery when facing danger, was a trait that Dimmesdale carried.
He feels he shouldn't be a minister or have people look up to him. On the last day of his life he sees Hester in the woods, they talk and make a plan to runaway together. Leaving, Hester, Dimmesdale feels a million times better. The excitement of Mr. Dimmesdale’s feelings as he returned from his interview with Hester lent him unaccustomed physical energy, (Hawthorne 204). That night he writes his speech to step down as a minister.
Many characters from The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, changed throughout the progression of the novel, — including Chillingworth, Hester, and even Pearl herself. No character, however, has changed as much as Dimmesdale has. Towards the beginning of the novel, Dimmesdale tries to ignore his sinful actions. Near the middle of the book, the clergyman, with the ‘help’ of Chillingworth, is able to realize his wrongdoings, and starts obsessively thinking of those wrongdoings. Around the end of the novel, with the help of the forest’s freedom, is able to finally repent correctly for his sin.
He shows how Hester highly values ideals such as independence, honor, love, and freedom. As a result of showing the morals of Hester, Hawthorne is able to show the true meanings of his work. He demonstrates how although Hester is known in the city as a sinner, the city is full of sinners and Hester, in reality, is representing an angel who stands up for what she believes in. Through the process of showing Hester’s Sacrifices affect what her true values are, Hawthorne is able to show the larger picture and the true meaning of the themes of the
Similarly, Dimmesdale envies the closure that Hester’s punishment has brought her: “‘Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly open your bosom! Mine burns in secret!’” (151). In this dialogue, Dimmesdale articulates how differently their sin has been treated. In Hester’s case, public punishment initially brought disapproval, but eventually led her to charity and a general acceptance by members of the society.
Because even her name conjures up many conflicting thoughts, the true nature of Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is heavily debated among critics. Mark Van Doren and D.H. Lawrence both assert their conflicting perspectives with a multitude of convincing devices, but D.H. Lawrence more effectively portrays Hester Prynne as an enemy through the use of thought-provoking allusions, critical diction and repetition, and an unconventional syntax in his essay, On Hester Prynne. Hester Prynne’s iniquity is foremost illustrated by Lawrence’s use of several biblical allusions. Although Hester shows benevolence throughout the novel and came to be respected in society, Lawrence asserts that this whole persona is a lie.
Dimmesdale knew that his choice to step back and allow Hester to bear all the punishment was not morally just, and that choice forever ate at him until he revealed his true self. As the guilt grew stronger, he grew sicker and weaker. He was so afraid to ruin his reputation that he would rather suffer in silence. Hawthorne states, “…all the dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life, had returned upon him; and he was already trembling at the conjunction in which- with a strange joy, nevertheless-he now found himself. ”(140).
Hester and Dimmesdale each are equivalent in the sin that they commit, but their lives and fates are different because Hester had to repent for her crimes while Dimmesdale bottled up his guilt inside. The indirect result of Dimmesdale’s concealment of the truth was Chillingworth’s torture, which played a large role in Dimmesdale’s untimely death. Chillingworth snapped when Hester did not reveal Dimmesdale’s crimes. Hester, in part, helped Dimmesdale in
In the “Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays hypocrisy of the Puritan society, where the protagonist Hester Prynne face many consequences of her actions and the how she tries to redeem herself to the society. During the seventeenth puritans believe that it is their mission to punish the ones who do not follow God’s word and it is their job to stop those from sinning. Therefore, the hypercritical puritan society punishes Hester harshly for committing adultery, but in Hester’s mind, she believes that what she did was not a sin but acts of love for her man. Eventually, she redeems herself by turning her crime into an advantage to help those in need, yet the Puritan society still view her as a “naughty bagger.” (Hawthorne 78)
However, at Dimmesdale’s deathbed, when he finally confesses, he realizes that his “death [is] of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever!” (Hawthorne 383). Dimmesdale finally feels the freedom when he steps down to Hester’s level and onto the scaffold. By lowering his belief if his status, Dimmesdale is able to
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne explores recurring themes of suffering surrounding the main characters, Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester and Dimmesdale both commit adultery with each other, and, as a result of this, both experience gruesome and occasionally unbearable forms of suffering. Though they undergo different forms of pain, both of their experiences are highly reliant on how the Puritan society treats them. Hester 's pain stems from the shame and estrangement she receives from the community, while Dimmesdale’s is due to the reverence with which the community regards him. Although, in spite of the fact that both Hester and Dimmesdale receive harsh penalty for their sin, by the end of the book, Hawthorne shows how their suffering is, in fact, the key to their salvation.