Books and Movies Reviews

The Scarlet Letter: Dimmesdale

Many characters go through transformations in The Scarlet Letter, and one of those characters is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of a puritan society, and it is the laws of that society, both written and unwritten, that Dimmesdale breaks and which causes the changes to occur. He commits the sin of adultery, and by sleeping with Hester Prynne, breaks the laws that he is supposed to represent. He cannot admit his sin because he is a holy man, and admitting his sin would mean losing the faith of his congregation. Instead he struggles with his sin and tortures himself in an effort to gain forgiveness for what he has done. Dimmesdale is described as the worst of sinners, yet he is seen as the holiest man in his community. Dimmesdale's progression occurs throughout the story, but can be seen in three main parts. Hefirst denies his sin, then he unwillingly accepts it, and finally he overcomes it. The three scaffold scenes can represent these three stages.
In thefirst scaffold scene, the town is out to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, and some of the women are suggesting other punishments. The women are also talking about Hester and Dimmesdale. "'People say,' said another,'that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation'" (49). The community sees Reverend Dimmesdale as a godly man who does not commit sin. In the beginning he feels fine and does not feel any guilt. Dimmesdale is trying to convince Hester to reveal the man who has sinned along with her, so the man can be relieved of his guilt, which is ironic because he is the man who has sinned with her.
What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him-yea, compel him, as it were-to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil w…


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