Scarlet Letter Guilt Quotes

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As he takes his last breaths in Hester's arms, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale exclaims, “God knows; and He is merciful! He hath proved his mercy, most of all, in my afflictions. Had either of these agonies been wanting, I had been lost for ever”. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale is tormented endlessly by remorse and the repression of his sin. Because of this, in his final moments, he is driven to reveal to the townspeople that he is the father of Pearl, finally relieving the guilt he burdened himself with for seven years. Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the theme of how guilt can destroy a person, body, and soul with the character of Arthur Dimmesdale. He does so by using the symbolism of the mark on Dimmesdale’s chest as well as incorporating …show more content…

Hawthorne exemplifies how it degrades Dimmesdale's psyche, describing the effects the varying methods have on him. In the times that the reverend stares at himself in the mirror, Hawthorne suggests that he does so for long periods of time, reflecting on himself and his misdeeds, resulting in hallucinations. Hawthorne also embeds strong diction such as “constant introspection” and “tortured” to assert the extent to which Dimmesdale is punishing himself. Despite how much he forces himself to endure, he’s unsatisfied. Hawthorne explicitly mentions this with one clause, “but could not purify”. This means that no matter the pain Dimmesdale inflicts upon himself, none of it makes him feel pure of his sin. To emphasize this, Hawthorne uses the anaphora of “night” and “sometimes”, conveying the need the minister feels to vary his methods of torment nightly, as performing a constant series of rituals has a lesser impact than undergoing different torture every day. Moreover, the entire paragraph is a representation of asyndeton. Hawthorne incorporates the device in the sentences to make the reader understand the desperation Dimmesdale feels by compiling the various ways he abuses himself, as well as the physical pain he endured. The use of asyndeton provides a weight to the sentences that make the reader feel overwhelmed, providing a connection with them and the character of Dimmesdale, helping them realize the extent of his guilt. Overall, Hawthorne’s integration of several rhetorical devices gives insight into the hardship Dimmesdale goes through because of his

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