Essay, Research Paper: Scarlet Letter And Dimmesdale

Literature: Scarlet Letter

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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 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 cannot 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 even 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 of the fact that 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, that to hide a guilty heart through
life.”(Hawthorne,65). Dimmesdale obviously is trying to tell her that he does
not want to hide with this guilt and that he will feel it and have temptations
later but also that he is going to go through life with the sin. Dimmesdale is
obviously hiding behind his religious mask and is afraid to come out and tell
his secret. This secret tears him apart and eventually is the cause of his
death. Reverend Dimmesdale was torn apart by his sin. It would make him do and
think evil things. The sin even made him resort to flagellation in order to make
the pain of the guilt go away. This self-prescribed torture Dimmesdale
eventually lead to his death on the scaffold where he did as he promised Pearl;
holding her and her mothers hand in front of the entire community. His torture
included him pushing himself to become a better minister to help keep the
guiltiness pushed back inside his head. He began working extremely to ensure
that where his work would make the community think of him as an even more holy
man who had done no wrong. In turn making his guilt rise up even more and then
making himself have to push on and try to hide his guilt. Dimmesdale even puts
himself through self-beatings. Where once he was a attractive man was now
considered a pale, weak, emaciated coward who could barely walk and would have
great pains, in which he would grab his chest. His torture brought him to his
death where he died upon the very scaffold that Hester, his fellow sinner, had
stood to face her punishment. Dimmesdale, throughout the book, knows of where he
is and what he is doing. He is seen in the book as a reverend and to the reader
as a man who is quite well-known in the community, but is obviously hiding
something. This keeps the reader interested in the book, Dimmesdale’s
regression and why he regresses to his deathly state. What he had done to get
there keeps the reader interested and wondering why he is so depressed. By the
time the reader did know that Dimmesdale was the partner of Hester’s sin, the
reader keeps reading to know why he committed the sin and why he is in such
great pain. Dimmesdale adds great suspense as to what he will do next in his
ghastly state where he is almost tempted to say blasphemous things and even tell
children about naughty words. He is a questionable character and this makes the
reader want to know how he will end up at the end of the book. Dimmesdale begins
the story as a handsome, religious figure in the community and slowly becomes
more cowardly. He hides himself behind a mask of lies and cannot bring himself
to come out from hiding. He tries a few times to get Hester to tell the town
that he is the other sinner, but he cannot do it himself. His body and soul
shrivels up and eventually dies, but not before he does one act of courage and
tells the entire town that he is the adulterer. Dimmesdale was the victim of his
own cowardliness and also the victim of Chillingworth’s hatred and revenge. If
he could have been brave enough to tell the truth he may have been able to save
himself and ended Hesters’ pain before it began. Dimmesdale is a cowardly,
weak man and he becomes more so throughout the entire book. He doesn't go
through any major changes, but the worst characteristics of his character become
more prominent. This eventually causes him to die.
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