Arezu Lotfi Mr. Burd, Block A American Lit 11 November, 2015 Fight or Flight With the inner struggle of guilt, a person can either be redeemed or destroyed. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Hester Prynne is ridiculed publicly by the Puritan community for adultery. Mr. Dimmesdale, the man Hester cheats with is a young minister in the town, and hides his sin from the community. Together the two have a daughter named Pearl, that Hester raises. Pearl is a constant reminder of their sin, in which Hester holds onto public guilt, and Dimmesdale onto private guilt. Both Hester and Dimmesdale are destroyed by their guilty consciences, but Hester can redeem herself in the town. Dimmesdale continues to be brought down by sin. In the novel …show more content…
Hester Prynne is punished in front of the whole Puritan community, with her daughter Pearl. Together Hester holds baby Pearl in her arms while being publicly ridiculed on a scaffold in the center of the town. To escape the constant mockery from the society, she can easily leave and move to a place where no one knows her sin, and where she would be free to live without punishment. Hester knows she has done wrong though, so she decides to stay where her sin takes place and where her punishment is established. Hester believes “The torture of her daily shame would at length purge her soul and work our another purity than that which she had lost.” (Hawthorne, 76). The sin Hester commits is so destructive to her mind, that she thinks the only way she will every be able to live a proper life is if she stays. Hester’s daily abuse from the community will allow her to cleanse her guilty conscience, and redeem herself in the society. Pearl is a continuous reminder of Hester’s guilt, she is the result of her sin. While Pearl grows up Hester is fearful of the child and the darkness she carried with her. Although, to Hester, Pearl’s “Peculiarity...should correspond with the guiltiness to which she owed her being” (85). Again, Hester thinks that if Pearl is abnormal it is due to her sin, and that she must deal with Pearl, to rid herself of her guilt. Not long after Hester is released from prison, …show more content…
Dimmesdale’s guilt from the sin he executed, is not known to anyone besides, Roger Chillingworth and Hester. He is in panic and terror at all moments that the Puritans will discover the sin he has done. Being in such an important position in the Puritan lifestyle, as a minister, he knows the consequences for which his sin will make if publicized. He tries multiple methods to try and rid himself of the guilt. Whenever he feels threatened by the guilt he places “His hand upon his heart,” (65). Another method he uses is “Vigils, night after night, sometimes in utter darkness; sometimes with a glimmering lamp; and sometimes, viewing his own face in the looking glass,” (136). Dimmesdale wants the vigils to help him with his inner guilt, and provide him and an answer to his feelings about himself. His sin began to wither him away. Hester started to notice that “He stood on the verge of lunacy, if he had not already stepped across it.” (157). Even though only one person that he knows of, Hester, knows his sin, he still is going insane from the misconduct he did. Dimmesdale cannot be freed of his private guilt that is driving him crazy. Dimmesdale is noticeable being damaged by the suffering of keeping his guilt private. After Hester and Dimmesdale discuss their plans to runaway together, in the woods, Dimmesdale returns to the town with a new attitude. He grasps the
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
Avenging and vengeful is the man who is wronged! This statement could be applied to several characters throughout the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sinful acts are inflicted upon many of the minute cast of characters, which impose a riveting journey for the reader to endure. Even more so are the reactions these prominent characters have toward their anguish and adversities as they heave themselves into the depths of solitariness, self-inflicted agony, and woe. Among these richly intriguing personalities is the town’s sinful stain, Hester Prynne, who has committed adultery; the demon-child, Pearl, who was a product to her mother’s adultery; the unholy clergyman, Arthur Dimmesdale, the other adulterer; and the implacable Doctor, Roger Chillingworth.
A strong reputation is an important component of Puritan society, and unlike a common townsperson such as Hester, Dimmesdale has more to lose because of his high stature. When the townspeople discovered Hester’s transgressions, she was punished and humiliated in front of the town. Dimmesdale believes if they learn the truth about him they will no longer see him as a respected minister but rather a sinner like Hester. Thus, Dimmesdale is faced with a dilemma: confess his sin and risk losing his status as a respected minister or maintain his reputation at the risk of having to deal with his overwhelming guilt. This internal conflict is a catalyst for the guilt that resides in Dimmesdale.
People often ask if guilt leads to repentance. Nathaniel Hawthorne shows that it does within his novel “A Scarlet Letter.” Through the novel, Reverend Dimmesdale is slowly eaten away by the guilt that resonates in his conscience from not admitting to his fowl play alongside Hester, as she carries the weight of the sin on her own throughout the novel by being excluded from the Puritan Society wearing a scarlet letter on her bosem. Overcome by guilt, grief, and self hatred, Reverend Dimmesdale conquers his subconscious fears by purifying his heart. Dimmesdale is filled with guilt throughout the entirety of the novel.
The result of pride leading to the downfall of a well-respected man is also present in the character of Arthur Dimmesdale. Unlike John Proctor, Dimmesdale wants to confess to his sins. Unfortunately, due to his high ranking position, he cannot bring himself to blacken his own name, slowly torturing himself with the unknowing help of Roger Chillingworth. In the Student’s Encyclopedia of Great American Writers, further elaboration on Dimmesdale's pride is discussed, stating that: “[...] the tormented preacher cannot make himself admit his affair with Hester publicly” (Student’s Encyclopedia of Great American Writers 271).
This illustrates that by not confessing your sin, you are only hurting yourself. Confessing up front and moving on and prevent lifetime of pain, bad health and a early death. His death comes suddenly, but his life could have been prolonged if he wouldn’t have hurt himself throughout the novel. Dimmesdale’s pain and choice to admit his sin illuminates the meaning of the novel even more than if he would have never confessed his
In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne links the mind and body together in order to demonstrate the hierarchical relationship the two have by implanting an abstract form of sin into the mind and revealing its tangible effects on the body. As guilt slowly torments Hawthorne and Hester’s spiritual mind and soul, the mental deterioration trickles down into their physical well-being. The two characters exemplify the two polarities of overcoming shame and guilt; Hawthorne represents those who cannot cope while Hester characterizes the able and strong-willed. By crafting these opposite personalities, Hawthorne implies that the mind resides on a higher tier than the body and conditions that affect the mind will subsequently affect the body. However, he suggests that
Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, a brilliant spokesperson and a devout and wise Puritan minister in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, is the lover of a woman who commits adultery, Hester Prynne. Hester, a recognizable adulteress, wears the scarlet letter and lives as an outcast. Contradicting, Reverend Dimmesdale’s sin stays hidden from the Puritan community, know only to Hester and himself. As a minister, Dimmesdale believes he should suffer from punishments the way Hester did for committing the same crime, which leads him to fall into a terrible mental and physical state.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, he explores the prodigy of love, crime, and revenge. It revolves around a sinful act of passion that impacts Hester Prynne, an adulteress forced to wear a scarlet letter “A”on her bosom; Reverend Dimmesdale, a respected minister in the puritans community; their daughter, Pearl; and Roger Chillingworth, Hester 's husband. Most of the characters portrayed can be analyzed as embodying both “good” and “evil” qualities. Dimmesdale is especially viewed as an ambiguous character. Dimmesdale’s moral ambiguity comes from his internal conflict between his devotion to the church and the guilt he feels for not receiving blame for his sinful act of co-adultery with Hester.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale commits a mortal sin by having an affair with a married woman, Hester Prynne. As a man of the cloth in Puritan society, Dimmesdale is expected to be the embodiment of the town’s values. He becomes captive to a self-imposed guilt that manifests from affair and his fear that he won’t meet the town’s high expectations of him. In an attempt to mitigate this guilt, Dimmesdale acts “piously” and accepts Chillingworth’s torture, causing him to suffer privately, unlike Hester who repented in the eyes of the townspeople. When Dimmesdale finally reveals his sin to the townspeople, he is able to free himself from his guilt.
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the illustration of guilt as portrayed as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for a wrong doing. In the novel, it exemplifies different types of guilt, such as guilt being cause by physical activity, someone doing wrong to God or religion, and a situation of something having intentions on doing harm to someone. For example, Dimmesdale commits a sinful act of adultery with Hester, who later leaves Hester and Pearl to suffer alone while he remains known as a hero in his village. By Dimmesdale not confessing his guilt and internalizing it for a long period of time, he ultimately ends up impairing his life for not confessing and admitting his deadly sin. Guilt has three attributes as to how it can
Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with the million - fold the power of retribution for my sin ?” This quote makes it clear that Hester believes Pearl deserves to stay by her side because she is part of her punishment. Even though Pearl is a product of sin, Hester believes that, with her by her side she will be able to retribute her sin, as she is the scarlet letter.
Her defiance becomes stronger and will carry her through different hardships. Her determination and lonely stand repeats again when she confronts Governor Bellingham over the issue of Pearl’s guardianship. When Bellingham wants to take Pearl away from Hester, Hester reply’s with, “God gave me the child! I will die first!”(Ch.). When also pressured even more for the child’s care, Hester pleads, “God gave her into my keeping.
Penance vs. Penitence In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of the hypocrisy of the Puritans in the 1600’s. He expresses the hardships of Hester Prynne and her adulterous lover, Authur Dimmesdale, who is also the town’s preacher. Because Reverend Dimmesdale is a very noble preacher, he has to persist with the guilt of his sin and continue to preach how one should live a holy and pure lifestyle.
In Dimmesdale not confessing and facing a punishment in the eyes of the church as well as the townspeople, causing him to take to his own means, while Hester is able to face a punishment. Dimmesdale does what he believes is right for his punishment by doing acts that damaged his mind and body. Dimmesdale, in creating his own punishment, holds vigils that last all night, fasted to the point that he barely ate anything at all, beat himself, and lost the will to live. Dimmesdale's sin stays with him throughout the book, and the readers see his mind and body deteriorate through his mysterious sickness, while the readers see Hester become a closed off outcast trying to repent. The townspeople in the book see DImmesdale's sickness, and how devoted he is to his faith and begin to believe that he is holy, and an angel sent to sent to save them, while Hester has repented and become able, as well as an
This causes grief within Dimmesdale, where he admits “Whether capable of good, I know not” (126), showing how he isn’t pure anymore, and will never be capable of good deeds because of it. Since he is a very traditionalistic man, him disobeying God is the worst thing a Puritan can do. Another example of Dimmesdale feeling guilt and grief is when he returns to the scaffold. While alone and delusional, he imagines the townspeople with him , while he cries out in anguish “The whole town will awake, and hurry forth and find me here!” (139), feeling terrified of people finding out his secret.