The Cowardly Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

Satisfactory Essays
The Scarlet Letter: The Cowardly and Weak Dimmesdale

In the book The Scarlet Letter, the character Reverend Dimmesdale, a very religious man, committed adultery, which was a sin in the Puritan community. Of course, this sin could not be committed alone. His partner was Hester Prynne. Hester was caught with the sinning only because she had a child named Pearl. Dimmesdale was broken down by Roger Chillinsworth, Hester Prynne’s real husband, and by his own self-guilt. Dimmesdale would later confess his sin and die on the scaffold. Dimmesdale was well known by the community and was looked up to by many religious people. But underneath his religious mask he is actually the worst sinner of them all. His sin was one of the greatest sins in a Puritan community. The sin would eat him alive from the inside out causing him to become weaker and weaker, until he could not stand it anymore. In a last show of strength he announces his sin to the world, but dies soon afterwards. In the beginning Dimmesdale is a weak, reserved man. Because of his sin his health regresses more and more as the book goes on, yet he tries to hide his sin beneath a religious mask. By the end of the book he comes forth and tells the truth, but because he had hidden the sin for so long he is unable to survive. Dimmesdale also adds suspense to the novel to keep the reader more interested in what Reverend Dimmesdale is hiding and his hidden secrets. Therefore Dimmesdale’s sin is the key focus of the book to keep the reader interested. Dimmesdale tries to cover up his sin by preaching to the town and becoming more committed to his preachings, but this only makes him feel guiltier. In the beginning of the story, Dimmesdale is described by these words; “His eloquence and religious fervor had already given earnest of high eminence in his profession.”(Hawthorne,44). This proves that the people of the town looked up to him because he acted very religious and he was the last person that anyone expected to sin. This is the reason that it was so hard for him to come out and tell the people the truth. Dimmesdale often tried to tell the people in a roundabout way when he said “…though he (Dimmesdale) were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life.
Get Access