His carnal craving is looked upon with ignominy. The matter is further convoluted by Hester's marriage, and his unwillingness to mar his reputation among the villagers as the faithful and innocent priest. He is now stranded at a crossroad, not knowing whether to confess or carry on a life of self-punishment. The sin begins to gnaw away at his sanity. As a form of penance he partakes in late night vigils, starvation, and self-mutilation.
Arthur Dimmesdale faces many challenges throughout the course of the novel, which causes him to evolve. Despite his many good qualities, he does not confess, while Hester Prynne gets publicly shamed for the sin they committed together. This adds up to the reader’s lack of empathy for Dimmesdale. He plays the role of “human frailty and sorrow.” The activities Hester and Dimmesdale engage in are completely unacceptable in the Puritan society. Arthur Dimmesdale is a Puritan minister, he is expected to be the representation of Puritan faith, so he refrains from disclosing the truth.
He must struggle futilely to get back to where he was. Torn between the desire to confess and atone for his sin and the cowardice that holds him back, Dimmesdale goes slightly mad. He takes up some morbid forms of penance, fasts and scourgings, but he can neither whip nor starve the sin from his soul. In his agony, he staggers to the pulpit to confess, but his words come out as generalized and meaningless declarations of guilt. The reverend seems to want to reveal himself, but Chillingworth's influence and his own shame are stronger than his weak conscience.
Dimmesdale suffers greatly because of the consequences of his refusal to acknowledge his sin and is therefore portrayed as a hypocrite because does not confess his sin still continues to act as a well-respected minister. When the reader is first introduced to Dimmesdale they do not realize he is a hypocrite until later in the book. His hypocrisy is first made apparent when Hester is on a platform in front of the town as punishment and Dimmesdale is called to force Hester to confess who the father is: “Hester Prynne,” said he [Dimmesdale], leaning over the balcony and looking down steadfastly into... ... middle of paper ... ... of truth. At the end of the novel Hawthorne draws a conclusion from the story that “Among many morals which press upon us from the poor minister’s miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence-- Be true! Be true!
Brown’s fate at the end of the story characterize his acceptance of his wickedness because he doubts God’s sovereignty and sees nothing but corruption. Hawthorne effectively communicates that Brown fails the test of morality and emphasizes that the flaw of Puritans is indeed only to think about the
And although it seems his remorse cannot go deeper than it already is, Dimmesdale begins to realize how his parishioners must see him. He is supposed to be an honest man, but in hiding his sin, he begins to see himself as a hypocrite. “What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul towards their purification? And as for the peoples reverence, would that it were turned to scorn and hatred!” (Hawthorne, 172.) Clearly Dimmesdale is worried about the reaction of the congregation if they were to discover his sin.
The community’s expectations cause Dimmesdale to punish himself for his sin instead of confessing. He struggles for years to come to terms with his mistake, and in the end he is able to accept his true identity and confess his sin publicly. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne illustrates how the community’s influence over Dimmesdale prevents him from embracing his true identity, highlighting the negative effects the community can have on a person. Negative and restrictive diction are used to portray the detrimental aspects of the community’s strict laws, which prevent Dimmesdale from revealing his true identity to the public. The Puritans are described as, “…a people amongst whom religion and law [are] almost identical, and in whose character both [are] so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline [are] alike made venerable and awful,” illustrating the high expectations of the community and the pressure their laws place on Dimmesdale (Hawthorne 47-48).
Also, the public has something to do with much of his distress, as well. They praise and worship him like a God among them, but this just reminds him that he is everything but holy. Furthermore, a large contributing factor to his misery is his constant and unwelcome companion, Roger Chillingworth. Chillingworth follows him, suffocates him and torments him by trying to get the minister to reveal all of his deep- hidden secrets. Works Cited The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne sparknotes.com
Hester's and Arthur's mutual sin is the source of their discontentment. They wrong themselves by breaking this sixth commandment. As Hester disavows her duties to her husband, Arthur denies his duty to the people of the community who look up to him with astounding reverence. He has polluted his soul, and says it best himself: "What can a...polluted soul [effect towards] their purification?" Arthur, through his own tainted actions, leaves himself in a position to either nullify the community's notion that the Reverend is a pure and godly individual or to lie to them.
Mine burns in secret!” (167) Dimmesdale envies Hester’s letter because she has no need to hide form anyone and live in secret. Towards the end of his life, Dimmesdale, has enough strength to admit to his sinful actions and declares of God’s mercy. The war that is going on inside Arthur Dimmesdale is one of appearance vs. reality. Dimmesdale in the end conquers his tribulations and admits to his hypocritical ways. While the town’s people viewed him as their incorruptible, revered and strong pastor they came to realize that he was corrupt, dishonest, and weak.