Dimmesdale As A Symbol In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The scarlet letter begins its role as a symbol in the novel by bearing a penal meaning, as a punishment for an adulterer. The scarlet letter initially manifested itself as the embodiment of sin. If the sacred command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” did not exist the rest of Hester’s existence would completely change and the sin would disappear. But alas, for Hester the strict puritan community forces her to wear the scarlet letter. Consequently, she must bear with her the association between the ornate fabric has: “The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch,—that is a truth," added a third autumnal matron. "At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne 's forehead. Madame Hester would…show more content…
Pearl and Dimmesdale both look upon the scarlet letter through the lense of their own experiences with Hester. Dimmesdale sees the scarlet letter as a symbol of his own guilt. Dimmesdale, unlike Hester never confessed his sin to the entire community, unlike Hester. The birth of Pearl allows Hester to embrace the sin, instead of hiding the sin itself and living in constant fear that thin facade of purity and chastity is torn down. Dimmesdale is haunted by the scarlet letter, perhaps he even feels at times jealous of the symbol. Dimmesdale wants to overcome the adultery and embrace his child, must like what Hester did but does not want to embrace the shame of unmasking himself. Pearl inquires why Dimmesdale cannot be with them in…show more content…
“Will he go back with us, hand in hand, we three together, into the town?” “Not now, dear child,” answered Hester. “But in days to come he will walk hand in hand with us. We will have a home and fireside of our own; and thou shalt sit upon his knee; and he will teach thee many things, and love thee dearly. Thou wilt love him; wilt thou not?” “And will he always keep his hand over his heart?” Dimmesdale 's shame seems to cause him pain in the same location where the beautiful letter resides on Hester’s body. The shame becomes so overwhelming for Dimmesdale that he cannot dear the sight of Hester or the Scarlet letter, a symbol that he played an active role in reacting. To Dimmesdale, the letter is not only a symbol of the sin committed by Hester but also evolves as a symbol for his guilt and the sin the two committed together so many years
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