The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1143 Words5 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne constructs the plot of his novel The Scarlet Letter around two sinners and traces their journeys towards acceptance and belonging as they experience the effects of sin and guilt their individual ways, especially Arthur Dimmesdale who becomes increasingly guilt wrought throughout the novel. Dimmesdale’s steep decline under the weight of his sin essentially causes him to become trapped in a prison of guilt, his own “desert places,” that he spends the majority of the novel attempting to escape. As Dimmesdale attempts to gauge the advantages and disadvantages of a full confession he finds himself in the midst of an intense internal battle over between his immense guilt and his crippling cowardice. On one hand, confessing would allow Dimmesdale to be freed from his guilt and be authentic with his actions, but on the other hand, confessing would also destroy his reputation among the strict Puritans. Hawthorne follows Dimmesdale’s path as he attempts battle his guilt and transitions from a stance of passivity, his indecision, to an attitude of action with his final decision to confess. In The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale is trapped between his cowardice and his guilt, his “desert places,” which ultimately leads to his downfall.
Arthur Dimmesdale's guilt controls and eventually corrupts his life because of his repugnance of confession and his own dissimulation. The Puritan Church, as well as Dimmesdale’s high position in it, becomes a mechanism for
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