Guilt In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Guilt. It means the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, many characters were involved with each other. Hester Prynne and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale had an affair, but only Hester was punished for it. Characters were portrayed as what society wanted them to be, not who they really were, and they have caused themselves pain because of that. In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism, to show how guilt can destroy someone. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale has caused himself pain mentally and physically. “His brain often reeled and visions seemed to flit before him." (Hawthorne 100). Dimmesdale didn’t know how to handle his guilt. He began whipping himself,…show more content…
Dimmesdale was described to be a saint and savior, but really he was like the others. “Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders, laughing bitterly at himself the while, and smiting so much the more pitilessly because of that bitter laugh.” (Hawthorne 136) Dimmesdale had to hide his pain and guilt. The townspeople knew Dimmesdale as the non-sinner, a perfect somebody, but really he was just like everyone else. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale had to live up to the expectations of the townspeople and that made it harder for him to come clean because everyone expected him to be better. “The judgment of God is on me,” answered the conscience-stricken priest. "It is too mighty for me to struggle with!” (Hawthorne 187) Dimmesdale is a minister. But also a sinner. Society only sees him as a minister. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale had an affair with Hester Prynne and Hester is the one being shamed for it. Being considered a god and being looked up to didn't help much either, being praised was a constant reminder of how imperfect he was and how cowardly he became because of his guilt. In conclusion, symbolism was greatly used in The Scarlet Letter to show how guilt can destroy someone. Dimmesdale has shown us that guilt can be more destructive than punishment imposed on others and that deception and secrecy can be destructive. Society has cause guilt to destroy a human by what they think
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