Hester And Dimmesdale's Shame

Decent Essays

Hawthorne artfully demonstrates the difference between external and internal portrayals of shame and the consequences of both, by using the characters of Hester Prynne and the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. By examining Hester and Dimmesdale’s way of dealing with the repercussions of their indiscretion and analyzing Benjamin Kilborne’s critique Shame Conflicts and Tragedies in The Scarlet Letter, one can see if, or by what measure, if either Hester’s or Dimmesdale’s shame is worse than the other. I believe Dimmesdale’s internal battle with his shame is far worse than Hester’s outward shame because it is “unbearable,” as mentioned by Kilborne.
An interesting idea brought up by Kilborne is how both Hester and Dimmesdale personify their sin. He questions why Dimmesdale is forced into seclusion from shame as it reaches to the depths of his soul if Hester is able to embrace her sin and shame and hold them up as realities. Before looking at this more closely, the way people perceive shame is an important factor.
Kilborne mentions, “In this context, shame can be a fundamental reaction to (and a defense against) “wrong feelings,” or being helpless in the face of the intensity of feelings, or being flooded by feelings one cannot understand. In addition to these shameful ego-ideal conflicts, the fear of the intensity of feelings itself generates shame, which then produces defenses against shame as an affect whose intensity is threatening.”
To put what he said in relation to the

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