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The Metamorphosis of Dimmesdale in Scarlet Letter
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are many characters that transform; one of them is Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale committed a great sin of the puritan society, he slept with another mans wife and Hester Prynne became pregnant. Hester was punished for her sin but Arthur Dimmesdale had not admitted to it, so he lives with this guilt and it is much worst for him because he is a puritan minister. Dimmesdale inflicts punishment upon himself because of his adulterated sin. Dimmesdale transforms throughout the novel always in the same place "The Scaffold."
The town is all out to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne some of the women are suggesting other punishments and the women are telling us about Hester and Dimmesdale. People say," said another, "that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation." (Page 49) Reverend Dimmesdale is seen as a godly man. A man who does not commit sin and in his own mind at this point he feels fine and does not have any guilt. Dimmesdale at this point in the novel is seen as godly and throughout the novel is seen as godly even at the end after the last scaffold scene. Consequently enough, Dimmesdale is trying to convince Hester to reveal the man who has sinned along with her , so the man can be relieved of his guilt, some what ironic because he is the man who has sinned along side with her. "What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee and the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniest to him--who, perchance, hath not the courage to grasp it for himself--the bitter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips!" (Page 65) This is the first scaffold scene Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is not showing any signs of guilt at this point, he is still fairly the same and has not began to inflict punishment on himself or so it appears. Dimmesdale in the first scaffold scene seems fairly normal and has not begun to transform himself but by the next time we see him at the scaffold he is taken a turn for the worst.
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Dimmesdale had begun to punish himself; he whips himself, has all night vigils and does not get much sleep. He also clutches his chest a lot in away that reminds Pearl of her mother, Hester's scarlet letter "A" By this point in time Hester Prynne's husband has found out about Dimmesdale's secret and has been tormenting Dimmesdale with it. Arthur Dimmesdale has become real pale and looks almost dead and also begins to lose his mind, this is scene on the scaffold. Dimmesdale goes and stands on the scaffold which is a place of punishment , he goes to admit his sin but he goes when it is pitch black outside and everybody in town is at home. "A good evening to you, venerable Father Wilson. Come up hither, I pray you, and pass a pleasant hour with me!" Good Heavens! Had Mr. Dimmesdale actually spoken? For one instant he believed that these words had passed his lips. But they were uttered only within his imagination. The venerable Father Wilson continued to step slowly onward, looking carefully at the muddy pathway before his feet, and never once turning his head towards the guilty platform. When the light of the glimmering lantern had faded quite away, the minister discovered, by the faintness which came over him, that the last few moments had been a crisis of terrible anxiety, although his mind had made an involuntary effort to relieve itself by a kind of lurid playfulness."(Page 147) Dimmesdale at this point has invited Hester and her daughter Pearl up on the scaffold, Pearl asked if the three of them can stand together he tells her no but someday. At the great judgment day," whispered the minister; and, strangely enough, the sense that he was a professional teacher of the truth impelled him to answer the child so. "Then, and there, before the judgment-seat, thy mother, and thou, and I must stand together. But the daylight of this world shall not see our meeting!'' (Page 150) Judgment day is most likely when Dimmesdale will admit his sin and not feel guilty anymore and receive his punishment for his adulterated sin. Judgment day is the day he will stand with his family and finally wash his hands of his sin. In this scaffold scene he has become so off the wall he does not know what is going on but by the third and final scaffold scene Dimmesdale will have changed for a third and final time.
Dimmesdale has made a few changes he and Hester had met in the forest where he looked the worst he has ever looked ". He looked haggard and feeble, and betrayed" (Page 185) Dimmesdale and Hester had not been alone since the sin was committed which was seven years ago. Hester and Dimmesdale decide that the three of them will run away together where they can live together feel like a family and not live in sin anymore, wash there hands of the sin. There ship is not leaving for another four days. In this time a lot of major events will happen. Dimmesdale has transformed from a god like man, to a crazy ill man to a haggard and feeble man and last of thus far a happy and relieved man. Hester also has told Dimmesdale that her husband Chillingworth knew of the two's sin and has been tormenting him with it. After the two have talked Dimmesdale is relieved and a little happier. Do I feel joy again?" cried he, wondering at himself. "Me thought the germ of it was dead in me! Oh, Hester, thou art my better angel! I seem to have flung myself--sick, sin-stained, and sorrow-blackened--down upon these forest leaves, and to have risen up all made anew, and with new powers to glorify Him that hath been merciful! This is already the better life! Why did we not find it sooner?"(Page 198) The next time we see all three together is on the scaffold where Dimmesdale will finally admit his sin "Judgment day". He has just given his sermon and now he goes and stands on the scaffold in front of everyone he tells the people of his sin and then he collapses and dies." Farewell!" That final word came forth with the minister's expiring breath. The multitude, silent till then, broke out in a strange, deep voice of awe and wonder, which could not as yet find utterance, save in this murmur that rolled so heavily after the departed spirit." (Page 252) In this final scaffold scene Dimmesdale made his last change and then died. He had finally relieved himself of guilt after seven years of letting this eat away at him and torment him. The people still saw him as a great man and he was never really seen as a dirty man.
In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Dimmesdale makes many changes - especially at the scaffold scenes. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale starts from a god like man to a crazy guilt ridden man to a relieved man to a man who has finally relieved himself of all his guilt. Dimmesdale went through many changes throughout the novel and was never actually the same even after he admitted to his sin. The three never really became a family but the closest they ever got was the third and final scaffold scene.