In The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays Arthur Dimmesdale as a troubled individual. In him lies the central conflict of the book. Dimmesdale's soul is torn between two opposing forces: his heart, his love for freedom and his passion for Hester Prynne, and his head, his knowledge of Puritanism and its denial of fleshly love. He has committed the sin of adultery but cannot seek divine forgiveness, believing as the Puritans did that sinners received no grace. His dilemma, his struggle to cope with sin, manifests itself in the three scaffold scenes depicted in The Scarlet Letter. These scenes form a progression through which Dimmesdale at first denies, then accepts reluctantly, and finally conquers his sin.
The Scarlet Letter involves many characters that go through several changes during the course of the story. In particular, the young minister Dimmesdale, who commits adultery with Hester, greatly changes. He is the moral blossom of the book, the character that makes the most progress for the better. It is true that Dimmesdale, being a minister, should be the role model of the townspeople. He is the last person who should commit such an awful crime and lie about it, but in the end, he confesses to the town. Besides, everybody, including ministers, sin, and the fact that he confesses illustrates his courage and morality.
Arthur Dimmesdale is a gentle character that is new to the town and prefers to keep to himself. During Hester’s punishment on the scaffold, the reverend is introduced as a “tremulous [man], expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint,” (Hawthorne 62). Hawthorne describes him as a kind, good-natured man that the community admires as their religious leader. Dimmesdale is quite reserved and does not talk much to others but he does have good relationships with the townspeople. During the first scaffold scene, Hawthorne describes Dimmesdale as having an “apprehensive, startled, half-frighte...
Dimmesdale makes his way down to the scaffold while stressing over his guilt. Hawthorne states,” The whole town will awake and hurry forth, and find me here!”(99). Dimmesdale believes that everyone is staring at the scarlet letter over his heart. He yelled trying to get the town to awake and find him standing on the scaffold so he could confess his sin. Hawthorne states,” And there stood the minister, with his hand over his heart; and Hester Prynne, with the embroidered letter glimmering on her bosom; and little Pearl, herself a symbol, and the connecting link between those two”(103). They stood on the scaffold as if it was their chance to reveal all their secrets. Dimmesdale believes that their secrets were revealed and that as the sun comes up everyone who belongs together will be together. This scaffold scene is representing how the guilt of Dimmesdale's sin is burning inside of him and him not knowing what to
In The Scarlet Letter, the scaffold symbolizes the torment Hester endures because of her sin. She decides to keep her love with Dimmesdale a secret to protect him. She stands on the scaffold alone every day for three hours, while everyone around her judges and criticizes her. Dimmesdale is not there to support her, and cannot reveal himself as her lover be...
The Scarlet Letter is a book written by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a young lady named Hester and her life when she is sent to New England by her husband to establish their life while he is wrapping unfinished affairs back in Europe. While in New England she stumbles upon Puritans, people who are believe deeply in sin and not having a way out of being damned to hell. Hester eventually runs into one of the worst she sins possible, adultery. Then the villagers stumble upon an accomplice in Hester’s sin, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale who cannot confess to his wrongdoings. Finally there is Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s former husband who swears revenge upon the man in which his wife had slept with, taking in the devil. In this novel three main sins are revealed by three main people, Hester who represents adultery, Reverend Dimmesdale who is an example of concealed sin, and the worst of them all, Roger Chillingworth who let the devil over take his soul. Throughout the book the true nature of sin is revealed and how different people react to it.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Mr. Dimmesdale’s greatest fear is that the townspeople will find out about his sin of adultery with Hester Prynne. Mr. Dimmesdale fears that his soul could not take the shame of such a disclosure, as he is an important moral figure in society. However, in not confessing his sin to the public, he suffers through the guilt of his sin, a pain which is exacerbated by the tortures of Roger Chillingworth. Though he consistently chooses guilt over shame, Mr. Dimmesdale goes through a much more painful experience than Hester, who endured the public shame of the scarlet letter. Mr. Dimmesdale’s guilt is much more damaging to his soul than any shame that he might have endured.
Hawthorne uses the scaffold scenes to show how the presence of light and dark gives insight into the characters nature. In the first scaffold scene, Hester releases not only her guilt about her crime, but, she also releases Pearl to the society and creates in Pearl the need for strength and determination that she will need to overcome the legacy of her creation. In this scene she also creates the need in Dimmesdale to absolve himself of his guilt. The second scaffold scene is the opportunity for Dimmesdale to attempt to release his guilt from the first scaffold. However, Pearl creates a need in Dimmesdale to repent in front of the town. During the third scaffold scene, Dimmesdale is able to release his guilt about his crime and his lack of strength. He is also able to complete his obligation to accept the hands of Pearl and Hester on the platform from the second scaffold scene. Through his confession, he creates a sense of reality for the entire town. It can be clearly seen that what is created in the first scaffold is released in the second scaffold; while, the things created in the second scaffold are finally released in the third and final scaffold. The darkness during the second scaffold scene is covered in darkness, which display the symbols of reality and truth. There is another complexity to the scaffold scenes in the presence, or lack there of, of lighting. The first scaffold
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.
In the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale demonstrates the difficulty and struggle of attempting to recognize the guilt that comes from a sin. Dimmesdale tries to recognize his guilt by going late at night to stand on the scaffold. Dimmesdale is trying to imagine the relief he must feel if he decides to confess his sin to the community. While standing Dimmesdale realizes that his sin affected Hester and Pearl life, it also affected his own life. Dimmesdale also realizes that when he did not confess and ask the town for forgiveness in the beginning of Hester’s scaffold scene, it caused more difficulty to recognize his guilt. This scaffold demonstrates how Dimmesdale is attempting to recognize the guilt he has for not standing on the scaffold