Despite the tragic ending of Dimmesdale’s life, Hawthorne demonstrates his perspectives on repentance, that doing so yields a free and strong-minded character. Because Dimmesdale neglected to make amends for his sins, he deteriorated on the inside and outside. In his attempts to atone, he still did not truly achieve penitence in the right way and continued to become unstable and weak. Before Dimmesdale’s last breath, he finally repented in front of his society, liberating himself from the evils of Chillingworth and his own self destruction. Upon that scaffold in his last moment, Dimmesdale did the most difficult task he had ever done, incriminate himself with Hester Prynne, the public symbol of ignominy in the Puritan community.
The Scarlet Letter exemplifies the intrepid view of morality held by the writer. Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter allegorizes that shame is advantageous for freedom while buried guilt only leads to demise. The history and religious background of Hawthorne’s life exemplifies his penchant for the topic of morality. In Melvin Askew’s article, the author proposes that Hawthorne was specifically concerned with consequences in a life. In Askew’s article, he provides a summation with an insightful statement of Hawthorne’s intention, “…the profound, psychological complex of experience and knowledge that leads to maturity of mind and heart” (Askew).
Dimmesdale is shown as being a secret sinner throughout the novel, but with the evil torturing that he receives from Chillingworth and himself it drives him to the point where he then becomes a public sinner. It is better for an individual to confess their sin than to bury it deep down. Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister, has had an affair (which he chose to do) with Chillingworth’s wife and he can’t come to the point where he can confess his sin to the public. Therefore, he is a secret sinner. By being this secret sinner Dimmesdale begins to physically and mentally break down.
The only sin that deserves a recompense of immortal agony!"(1057). The Scarlet Letter, as an allegory, invites the reader to reflect on this idea. It is obvious that Hawthorne's intention is not to glorify sin in the life of the individual. Nevertheless, his message seems to communicate that the path an individual chooses after coming in contact with sin indicates the true character of that person while suggesting that Puritanism who guarded against sin so zealously, inadvertently is guilty of this "unpardonable sin." Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel.
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).
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Dimmesdale and Danforth's sins have similar motives, but the characters have distinctly different methods of sin and resolution. Dimmesdale is a selfish coward. He does not work toward anything substantial. Although he supposedly loves Hester, he refuses to admit that he was her ?fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer? ( Hawthorne, 65).
The theme of private sin versus public morality in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter creates internal conflict Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale with the reflection of the imagination. Puritanism ,as a word, is not only placed objectively, as Hawthorne did , but subjectively as well. Not in the judgment of harsh prejudice of his characters, or in the obtrusion of a moral lesson, but in the very quality of his own vision , in the tone of his imagery, in a coldness and exclusiveness of treatment. The puritan community is ruled through a strict theocracy. The Puritans believed that following the exact teachings of God made them great and superior.
Failure to respect God's standards often roots obscurity in recognizing one's own sins. For this reason, Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to maintain a dark and truthful view of mankind, his romantic historical fiction novel; The Scarlet Letter reveals both the author and man's common struggle to discern the difference between Civil and Natural Law, the means by which they deceive themselves, justify their actions, and seek redemption. Not to mention, the setting impacts the evolution of the plot dramatically as certain bold individuals take on the role of romantic heroes, fighting the Puritan Utopia in both a proper and improper manner. Consequently, a recurring theme is continually developed as transcendentalists view man as inherently good and Hawthorne exposes the reality of man’s wickedness. However, Hawthorne's conflicting views of human nature are clearly evident as he both sympathizes and rebukes the transgressions of the Puritan society though each of four main characters.
According to Levine, “even though we convey ourselves as saints, we are really sinners (Levine 64). The Scarlet Letter is a classic work of Hawthorne due to the themes it portrays and the relevancy to today’s society. By definition, “A classic is a work of art so universal that it has transcended the boundaries of time and place; it has survived the ‘test of time’” (Lazarus). In the highly symbolic novel, “The Scarlet Letter”, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the effects of hidden sin and his characters’ ultimate release from guilt when they learn to own their sin. It all started when Nathanial Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804.
In this way, Hawthorne establishes a dichotomy between lack of color and color in order to show concealment as the greatest sin. The Puritan world is the setting. In their isolated world, the Puritans share the belief that acts such as adultery are the greatest sins. The revolutionary writer, Hawthorne, penetrates this world to expose Puritan hypocrisy and, through Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl, shows that concealment is the greater sin. Through them, Hawthorne teaches the lesson that concealed guilt will gradually drain its bearer of all strength and power, whereas honesty will have an empowering effect.