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The Martyr and the Hero: Comparion of Arthur Miller´s The Crucible and Nathanial Hawthrone The Scarlet Letter

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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter share remarkable parallels not only in their examination of early Puritan America, but also in the dilemma of the two main male characters, John Proctor and Arthur Dimmesdale. Both these men had sinful relations with another member of the town, and must deal with the adversity that resulted from their sin. Although both John Proctor and Reverend Dimmesdale become hypocrites in their society, Proctor overcomes his sin and is able to redeem himself, while Dimmesdale’s pride and untimely death prevent him from fully experiencing redemption.
Perhaps the greatest link connecting both Dimmesdale and Proctor is their sin, and the guilt and self-loathing that follow. For Proctor, his whole life as an upstanding man of Salem is destroyed by his one moment of sinfulness and he later laments to his wife, “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man… My honesty is broke,” (Crucible 136). Dimmesdale likewise sees himself as a fraud as he reflects, “I should long ago have thrown off these garments of mock holiness, and have shown myself to mankind as they will see me at the judgment-seat” (Scarlet 188). The loathing with which these men view hypocrites is only matched by the loathing they feel towards themselves for their own hypocrisy. Miller, when first introducing Proctor, describes “that he [has] a sharp and biting way with hypocrites,” and Hawthorne highlights Dimmesdale’s stance on hypocrisy as when he shouts to Hester “What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him —yea, compel him, as it were —to add hypocrisy to sin," (Crucible 20, Scarlet 65). Dimmesdale makes a distinction between hypocrisy and sin, but believes that they are...

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...d is in the cover of darkness, but this only further discourages him as Hawthorne explains, “all the dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life, had returned upon him” (Scarlet 149 ). Because of this inability to overcome his pride, Dimmesdale does not experience the transformation into peace that Proctor has. While Proctor was able to put aside his pride when he saw that more than himself was at stake, not even the sight of Hester on the scaffold can move Dimmesdale to confession. By the time he does confess, his death removes him from any results or consequences that come about as a result of this confession.
By the end of the novel and the play, both John Proctor and Reverend Dimmesdale are dead. While Proctor dies a hero in defense of the truth, Dimmesdale dies a martyr, a testament to the destructive nature of hypocrisy and pride.