Reverend Dimmesdale suffers a greater punishment than Hester by experiencing recurring guilt, physical harm, and Chillingworth’s torment. Dimmesdale experiences guilt after he commits adultery. As a devout Puritan minister, Dimmesdale preaches against sin. However, Dimmesdale contradicts his preaching and has an affair with Hester, a married woman. The novel begins with Hester standing on a scaffold for public shaming.
The Scarlet Letter, a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, functions as an evaluation of Puritan ideas, customs, and culture during the 17th century. Through this evaluation, we can get a good idea of what core values and beliefs the Puritans possessed, as well as the actions they take in cases of adversity brought about by “sinners”. Some Puritan virtues created stark divisions between groups of people, some of which led to discrimination under certain circumstances. One of the most prominent of these is the treatment and standards of men and women, a concept that surfaced during some of the major points in The Scarlet Letter. The divisions that were created by Puritan standards of men and women played a great role in shaping the plot of The Scarlet Letter, determining the fate of many of the characters.
Sociologically, true alienation and loneliness leads to depression and suicide. Psychologically, guilt and regret drive the force of internal conflict and corruption. Half of those who know the truth about Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne have made the Reverend promise to never reveal the truth, while the other half intends to torture Dimmesdale endlessly, sending him into a downward spiral until what remains has no trace to the young and beloved Reverend Dimmesdale. For example, Dimmesdale exclaims, "I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgement-seat." The Reverend wishes only to feel the relief and freedom that washes over Hester by shedding the facade of holiness that holds Dimmesdale in such Hugh regard.
The novel itself is not advocating equal rights, it does the complete opposite. Hester is prosecuted for committing a crime of adultery while Mr.Dimmesdale is not being punished for committing the same crime. Hester is looked down upon in the community while the townspeople praise Mr.Dimmesdale. The events that took place in the story does not exemplify a feminist novel, but illustrates a strong female character. Hester was constantly persecuted by the women in town, “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die”(Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 50) harsh words were said behind her back.
In Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, a women, Hester Pryne, who lives in the village becomes pregnant after her husband allegedly passes away. In the puritan community, this is a sin of adultery and Hester is brought to the scaffold in front of the entire village to be shamed. By the middle of the novel, it is realized that Arthur Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl, Hester’s baby. Roger Chillingworth comes back and conceives the idea of Dimmesdale being the father and starts his vengeance. In Hawthorne’s the Scarlet Letter, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale differ in their personalities, their positions in the village, and their relationship with Hester.
Dimmesdale said “At last- at last!- I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood, here, with this woman, whose arm, more than a little strength wherewith I have crept hitherward, sustains me at this dreadful moment, from grovelling down upon my face!” (Hawthorne 153). He admitted everything to all the people and stood with Hester and Pearl on the scaffold. He told Chillingworth, who didn’t want him to confess because he would lose all his power, that his sin was also great. Pearl give Dimmesdale a kiss before he died from guilt, and the people couldn’t believe their favorite clergymen had committed adultery. The people then realized in his flesh a scarlet
Throughout the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne keeps his main focus on the character’s development and how they change/grow throughout the novel. Reverend Dimmesdale was a crucial character all throughout this novel. Dimmesdale, among other characters, showed much change, referring to the way he began to react towards other citizens, and growth, referring to his outcome at the end of the novel. There was abundant self-hate, irony, and guilt within Dimmesdale. Reverend Dimmesdale was a leader of the community, but also a sinner.
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. The hardships and punishments of both Hester and Dimmesdale, while difficult to endure at the time, were eventually beneficial and allowed them to free themselves from the Puritan community and escape their pain. Hester, throughout the beginning and middle of the book, is forced to face alienation and humiliation from her town, though by the end of the book, she is able to use her punishment to set her free from her society. First, Hester reflects on the effect of her sin, and realizes, “ . .
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapters fourteen through twenty-four, concludes the novel with astonishment. Due to previous events, Hester is forced to wear a scarlet letter as a form of punishment but surprisingly, with time, she begins to be respected and admired by society. Later, we realize that chillingworth is plotting against Dimmesdale and should be stopped. Hester and dimmesdale have a meet at the woods where things get rather intimate. After the meet on the woods events occur which lead to dimmesdale’s death but also his release from guilt.
First, Dimmesdale reinforces the theme of guilt because he feels remorse for not confessing his sin of adultery. Hester and Dimmesdale, a minister, both commit adultery with each other and the consequence is Hester becoming pregnant with Pearl. Being too much of a coward to reveal he is Pearl’s father out on the scaffold, Dimmesdale punishes himself for seven years by carrying his burden all on his own. The name Dimmesdale represents dimming the light of truth, therefore, his life is fading when he will not confess his sins. Hawthorne states, “He (Dimmesdale) thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself.” (Hawthorne 132).