The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1533 Words Nov 21st, 2016 7 Pages
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne highlights the concepts of sympathy and shame through Arthur Dimmesdale, who commits a sinful act of adultery. Dimmesdale is a renowned minister in Puritan society who conceives an illegitimate child with Hester Prynne. Dimmesdale is not publicly condemned; instead, as he conceals his sin from public scrutiny, he faces an inner conflict. He is conflicted because if he confesses, he can become Hester’s lover, but will also be publicly scrutinized. On the other hand, if he continues to conceal his sin, he will continue feeling shameful, but can remain renown in the Puritan community. Before Dimmesdale dies, he overcomes his inner conflict and is able to atone for his wrong doings. Dimmesdale’s complex character and the particular circumstances of his crime, ultimately makes Hawthorne and readers ambivalent towards Dimmesdale’s plight (150).
Dimmesdale is a renowned individual of Puritan society, so he is greatly influenced by the “iron framework of reasoning” (150). The Puritan settlement depicted in the novel is strict in their values. As a result, Dimmesdale is greatly ashamed of his transgression because adultery is one of the greatest crimes in Puritan society. Dimmesdale believes that it is his obligation to abide by Puritan principles, so he is repentant of his iniquity. When Hawthorne reflects on adultery, he says, “a penalty which, in our days, would infer a degree of mocking infamy and ridicule, might then be invested with…
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