Arthur Dimmesdale's Guilt and Hypocrisy Essay

829 Words Mar 5th, 2013 4 Pages
Arthur Dimmesdale’s Guilt and Hypocrisy
By Ashlyn R. Thomas
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s gripping tale, The Scarlet Letter, a revered Puritan minister suffers from cowardly guilt and hypocrisy after he commits adultery in this novel staged in the seventeenth century. Arthur Dimmesdale, who hides himself in the shame of his lover, Hester
Prynne, protects his reputation among the Puritan people. The scaffold, a public symbol of disgrace, contrasts with the pastor’s silent sin of adultery. When Hester became a symbol of sin among the people and wore the scarlet letter as punishment, Dimmesdale bears a sinner’s masked mark in his heart. As a result of his concealed sin, Dimmesdale suffers from guilt and hypocrisy. Over the course of the
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Shrieking aloud like those suffering souls who turn away from the face of God, Dimmesdale felt little relief from the iron chains of guilt and hypocrisy. Longing to free his guilty soul, Dimmesdale stood on the scaffold imagining Hester’s disgrace. Illustrating his inner conflicts, Dimmesdale had expressed himself by screaming aloud.
Immediate horror encompassed him because he is afraid of being discovered by the town. Alone in the abyss of darkness, upon the pedestal of shame, Dimmesdale found little relief in his private confession in the second scaffold scene.
Finally, a few days later, Dimmesdale confesses his sin publicly in the third scaffold scene, showing his repentance and thereby finding relief from guilt and hypocrisy. Allowing his sin to fester in his heart for over seven years, Dimmesdale, now a dying man from sin, decided to ascend the scaffold. Dimmesdale, understanding that he, a dying man, sought mercy and forgiveness, and climbed the pedestal in guilty remorse. “Ye that have loved me!—ye, that have deemed me holy!—behold me here, the one sinner of the world! At last I stand upon the spot where seven years since, I should have stood!”3 Beckoning Hester and their child, Pearl, to his side, Dimmesdale’s voice strengthened. As he confesses, the people recognized Dimmesdale bore the same stigma that marked Hester. Dimmesdale asks for forgiveness, therefore completing his
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