Shame And Guilt Of Arthur Dimmesdale 's The Scarlet Letter

952 Words Nov 2nd, 2015 4 Pages
Shame and Guilt of Arthur Dimmesdale
Shame and guilt are both similar feelings but what is the difference? “Although many people use these two words interchangeably, from a psychological perspective, they actually refer to different experiences. Guilt and shame sometimes go hand in hand; the same action may give rise to feelings of both shame and guilt, where the former reflects how we feel about ourselves and the latter involves awareness that our actions have injured someone else. In other words, shame relates to self, guilt to others” (Burgo). Both shame and guilt play a major role in Nathanial Hawthorn’s The Scarlet Letter. Characters in the novel go through both shame and guilt in the novel and though the public shame is difficult to bear, internal guilt is a harder emotion to experience.
The Scarlet Letter describes the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth to a daughter after an affair with the minister, Arthur Dimmesdale. The town finds Hester guilty of adultery and she is required to wear a scarlet "A" on her dress to shame her. Hester chooses to keep the identity of the father to herself, and Dimmesdale does not come forward with this knowledge because he feels he is such a moral figure to the townspeople. Although Hester goes through the public shame by the citizens who found her guilty, she herself does not feel guilt or shame. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, goes through a much more painful way of life by internalizing his shame which is much more damaging to…
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