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The Scarlet Letter, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Decent Essays
Surveillance can be considered the act of being watched under a close eye and can have either a positive or negative effect on a person. Some individuals feel more at ease knowing that someone is always there watching which is to create a supposedly safe environment. Others feel pressure from society or their peers to live up to their respected positions and morals of the society, much like Dimmesdale, which causes extreme paranoia. In The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dimmesdale is an example that demonstrates negative effects that surveillance can have on a person. In the romance, Dimmesdale is faced with both his own surveillance and Chillingworth’s surveillance. However, Dimmesdale’s own scrutiny causes more damage to himself than Chillingworth’s does. Dimmesdale is the minster of the town, which means that he has several responsibilities and he is surrounded by the idea that he should live without sin to be an exemplar of the town. This creates pressure for Dimmesdale because he understands the severity of the sin he has committed. He feels like a failure to his followers and that he is unfit to be the minster anymore and that his life has no more meaning since he betrayed God. The narrator states “…on a pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him…”, which is exactly what Dimmesdale did. He refused to confess when Hester was on the scaffold which left him to hide is
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