The Scarlet Letter Essay

The Scarlet Letter Essay

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The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, portrays the adversities faced by Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale, and their struggles to overcome their sins of adultery. Hawthorne depicts the celestial Dimmesdale as a troubled minister with an uneasy conscience who struggles to cope with his wrongdoings. Dimmesdale is torn between whether to publically confess his wrongdoing with Hester and let the merciless Puritans decide his fate, or keep his secret hidden and let the guilt derived from his actions, along with the devil in Roger Chillingworth, destroy him both mentally and physically. Being divided between his love for Hester and his Puritan ideals, Dimmesdale’s advancement towards making amends for his sin of adultery is manifested in the three scaffold scenes throughout the novel.
The first scaffold scene depicts Hester’s public humiliation of her sin, and Dimmesdale’s lack of courage and troubled soul. In the first scaffold scene, Dimmesdale acts as Hester’s deceptive accuser, letting her stand alone on the scaffold for three hours while being ridiculed by the townspeople for an act they both committed. Dimmesdale charges Hester “to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and fellow-sufferer. Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him” (Hawthorne 64). By directly speaking to Hester, Dimmesdale wants Hester to reveal his sin to the townspeople of Boston. Dimmesdale does not want Hester to pity him, and take all the blame for their wrongdoing because he does not want to live a sinful life full of hidden sin and guilt. Although Dimmesdale wants Hester to reveal his secret, he is relieved when Hester says “I will not speak...And my child must seek a heavenly Father; she shall never know an earthly ...


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... Dimmesdale, a minister with a troubled soul, regrets his actions and makes amends for his sin, allowing him to finally be free from guilt and suffering.
The scaffold, a place of public shame and humiliation, symbolizes Dimmesdale’s progression towards making amends for his actions, and obtaining salvation. Dimmesdale goes from being a religious and deceitful minister in the first scaffold scene to a humble and lowly individual by the end of the third scaffold scene, freeing himself from the guilt that has caused so much havoc on his life. Dimmesdale’s sin, which is manifested throughout the three scaffold scenes, symbolizes the major theme of the Scarlet Letter, which states that hidden sin will ultimately kill an individual if left unconfessed, and that the only way to achieve salvation is by publicly confessing one’s actions and making atonement with God.

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