Secrets in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "The Scarlet Letter" Essays

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Secrets can destroy even the most respected people. Sometimes is not the secret itself that drives people into exhaustion, but the emotional baggage that comes with it. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Dimmesdale physically deteriorates because of his guilt caused by a dishonorable sin. The Puritan society in which the story is set discourages the idea of the private self, which Hawthorne shows by creating distinctions between the characters’ private and public lives, specifically Dimmesdale’s.
Dimmesdale’s public life and private life are radically different, but affect each other nonetheless. Dimmesdale’s private life destroys him mentally and physically. His affair with Hester violates his moral codes that he is
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His followers disregard the fact that he has committed a sin and instead respect him even more for being humble. Had it been anyone other than Dimmesdale to confess to aiding in adultery, they most likely would have verbally assaulted or shunned him. However, Because Dimmesdale appeared weak and sickly, they accepted his private life.
The settings in which Dimmesdale’s public and private lives are set are distinguished. The scaffold is considered the public setting in the novel; not only is this where Hester was humiliated in front of the community, but it is also where Dimmesdale makes his final plea for the townspeople takes place. Generally, the forest is where the private conversations occur; it is where Hester and Dimmesdale talked to each other in privacy for the first time since their affair and where their sinning happened.
Even though it is clear that Dimmesdale felt extremely guilty, he never actually wanted to admit that he had sinned. The fact that he intended to confess his sin for the final time during the night shows that he does not want the people to know, but just wants to clear his conscience by confessing to himself. While Dimmesdale was on the scaffold, Reverend Wilson walked by and Dimmesdale apparently said hello but was in such
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