Guilt Obsession In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Guilt Obsession Within the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathanial Hawthorne Reverend Dimmesdale drastically develops throughout the novel, from being a symbol of Puritan religion to displeasing the population of the Puritan expectations through his actions. His appearance as well as his privilege and prominence within the community alters radically. He begins the novel as the town reverend, and later, the shame of Hester accepting the entirety of the blame and the fact that he escaped with no punishment or shame from the town ultimately consumed him. Throughout the novel, it was revealed that he had a red mark on his chest in correlation to the “A” that was displayed on Hester’s chest. Dimmesdale is an ironic character in the sense…show more content…
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). Dimmesdale became lost within his identity due to the self-inflicted shame and guilt, and he finally came to the conclusion that he would be healthier if he came forward and revealed himself. Although the congregation was displeased, and he received all of their judgmental stares at once, he finally felt at peace. He realized that the punishment wasn’t nearly as bad as his own demons that were relentless. Shortly after his confession, he died. He knew he couldn’t die without clearing his conscience. Earlier in the novel he expressed some concern about black weeds growing over his grave because of his unconfessed sin. His remaining purpose of his survival relied solely on his chance to confess, to alleviate the monster that was slowly killing him, until it eventually

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