Dualism In The Scarlet Letter Chapter 11

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Chapter 18 of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is titled A Flood Of Sunshine. In this chapter, Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne resolve to leave the Puritan colony together along with Pearl. Sunshine and floods are both elements of nature yet one brings light and sunshine and the other brings destruction and grief. Similarly, Arthur Dimmesdale is caught in a struggle with two parts of his nature that juxtapose each other. This passage emphasizes Dimmesdale’s duality in yearning for a guiltless life that is free from religious judgement and a god fearing, sinless life that is conscious to Puritan ideology. In the first sentence, the passivity and uncertainty that marks Dimmesdale’s initial `excitement about leaving the Puritan community…show more content…
Dimmesdale’s perceived freedom that he is relishing in is slowly being intertwined with his captivity on Earth. The glow and the atmosphere causes Dimmesdale’s spirit to “rise [rose], as it were”. The verb “rise” suggests a transformation from the emotional sensation of excitement to a physical action. The air that Dimmesdale has breathed in from the atmosphere seems to have quickened his spirit. One’s spirit is the animating source of life and gives life and energy to a physical organism. Therefore in referencing Dimmesdale’s spirit and assigning it an action, the action indirectly applies to Dimmesdale. The presence of Dimmesdale’s passivity is proven by the absence of a direct reference to Dimmesdale. However the freedom and wildness is contained “with a bound”. This abrupt halt contrasts with the prior wild, free atmosphere. Even with this boundary, Dimmesdale’s spirit “attained [attains] a nearer prospect of the sky”. The active verb indicate that the prospect was not given to his spirit; instead it was obtained and acquired. The comparative adjective, “nearer”, suggests that his sin and guilt had created insecurity about whether he was worthy to go to heaven. The contextual meaning of prospect is the possibility and likelihood of the sky. The alternate definition…show more content…
He “inevitably” has “devotional in his mood”. All of Dimmesdale’s attempts to distance himself are invalidated by the word “inevitable”. No matter how much he tries he will unavoidably always have a trace of Puritan beliefs and the Puritan way of thinking. He might have a “tinge” or a slight imprint but nevertheless it is there and has some sort of influence over him. He is not just believer but an individual “of a deeply religious temperament”. This dangling modifier does not clearly expresses whether it is referring to Dimmesdale or his spirit. This ambiguity shows that it does not matter whether it is Dimmesdale or Dimmesdale’s spirit, the temperament is somehow always there. Puritanism’s powerful grasp on Dimmesdale is a prime example of how the culture that an individual lives and grows in can become an essential part of their identity. Once, distance and space is created between the individual and culture it may seem as if they are no longer belong to the culture or the society. Unlike Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne is able to be comfortable with the distance created between her and the Puritan community. She does not allow her status as an outsider erode her personal connection to the community nor does she completely lose her
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