The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1902 Words8 Pages
Through the character of Arthur Dimmesdale, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the main concepts he intends for the audience to grasp of The Scarlet Letter, such as the effects of guilt on an individual, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and the conflict of individual versus self. Throughout The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne emphasizes Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale’s downfall as a character, and what kinds of effects the guilt as a partner in adultery has on him. Primarily, the audience realizes the physical effects Dimmesdale’s guilt constitutes; “Dimmesdale is ‘careworn and emaciated’ and as always ‘pale’…” He becomes jaded, fatigued and an ill sight in the eyes of the other characters and the people of Boston. The townspeople and his congregation see his sudden illness as only a medical issue, rather than a subconscious burden that has escalated to the point where his body can no longer handle it. As a minister, he has always been a peaceful and spiritual man who guides others through the message of God. Therefore, they realize he is in need of a physician, since he will not choose a wife to care for him, and the doctor Roger Chillingworth had just recently arrived in Boston by the time his assistance was needed. Though Dimmesdale agrees to be cared for by this physician, he does not realize that Chillingworth will only create more disruption and burdens for the minister throughout the book. Secondly, he develops a habit of clutching his hand over his breast around the heart, which is conveniently the same placement as where the scarlet letter lays on Hester Prynne. Hawthorne does not inform the audience of why he does this, or if there is anything significant placed there. “Hawthorne has been careful to note several times Dimm... ... middle of paper ... ...olitical holiday. By doing so, he has presently allowed Hester and Pearl into his true character and internal self, and allows nothing to come between them henceforward. Through this, he has released all his shame and found the absolute peace he has needed for his redemption, and he dies at the spot a man of much penance. Hawthorne’s message in utilized wholly by this point in the story because his character of Dimmesdale has prevailed through each factor that one in reality must endure in order to grasp the moral concepts of life. Although The Scarlet Letter is a fictional tale about the sinners of a puritan society, Nathaniel Hawthorne has implemented important moral messages that are still upheld in reality’s society today: of the effects of guilt on the individual, taking responsibility for one’s actions, and the conflicting nature of individual versus self.
Open Document