Dimmesdale Lacks Courage in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

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The Scarlet Letter - Dimmesdale is Good, but Lacks Courage There is a fine line between hypocrisy and cowardice. Arthur Dimmesdale, a principal character in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter provides a perfect example of how thin that line can be. The Scarlet Letter relates a story about sin and the many consequences of not having strength of character. The true nature of Reverend Dimmesdale's character has been debated since the first publication of the novel. Dimmesdale is considered by many to be a hypocrite because he cared more about protecting his reputation than he did about protecting the woman he loved. Others view the Reverend in a more sympathetic light and see him as not a hypocrite, but as a good man who merely lacked courage. The contention that Dimmesdale was a good person who merely lacked the courage to come forward and admit his sin is supported throughout the text of the novel. The novel takes place in a small Massachusetts colony and revolves around an affair between a local woman, Hester Prynne, and a young reverend named Arthur Dimmesdale. As punishment, Hester is forced by the townspeople to wear a scarlet colored, letter "A" upon her chest for the rest of her life. The letter would be a constant reminder to Hester and the townspeople of her sin. Her sin is further compounded by the fact that she will not state the name of her accomplice- Dimmesdale. Hester has to face much suffering due to her sin. What separates her torment from the type of anguish that Dimmesdale incurred is that the Reverend's was an internal pain, a disease on his heart that would eventually make its way outside, consuming him and ultimately killing him. "If it be the soul's disease it g... ... middle of paper ... ... Works Cited and Consulted Arvin, Newton. "Critical Extracts." Major Literary Characters. New York, 1990. 12-14. Bruckner, Sally. "The Scarlet Letter: Critical Evaluation." Masterplots. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Pasadena: Salem, 1996. 5847-5851. Dolan, Neal. "Thematic and Structural Analysis." The Scarlet Letter: Bloom's Notes. Philadelphia: Chelsea, 1996. 12-21. Durst Johnson, Claudia. Understanding The Scarlet Letter. Westport, Ct: Greenwood, 1995. McFarland Pennell, Melissa. Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Westport: Greenwood, 1999. Morey, Eileen, ed. Readings on The Scarlet Letter. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998. Sewall, Richard B. "The Scarlet Letter: Criticism." Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 319-27. Wagenknecht, Edward. "Characters in The Scarlet Letter." Readings. San Diego, 1998. 58-72.
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