From The Moment Courage Is Lost

1823 words - 7 pages

"The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle then the courage of the final moment: but its no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressure-and that is the basis of all morality" (JFK 1). Acts of courage often go unnoticed and many times it takes all of what a person has in order to do these acts. Throughout history, man has suffered pains of guilt, remorse, and shame. If one looks at it through any form of religion, sin is discovered to be the source. However, is sin the cause of all suffering or does a lack of courage in a single moment lead to the beginning of suffering? Many who have sinned suffer, just as Dimmesdale suffers in one of Hawthorne's books. However, who is to say his sin and crime is the source of his suffering? Just like many others, Dimmesdale hides his sin from the rest of society and lives a normal external life, while on the inside he is tortured and lives each day in growing pain. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale goes through a course of suffering, ultimately ending in his death, which is not caused by his sin, but rather is caused and prolonged by his cowardice and resulting inability to receive forgiveness.From the beginning of the novel, Dimmesdale proves to be lacking in courage, which results in the beginning of his suffering. Courage implies a firmness of mind and will in the face of danger and extreme difficulty. From the moment Dimmesdale is introduced into the story, he seems to be lacking that virtue. When the people of Boston force Hester up on the scaffold and ask her to identify her partner in sin, she refuses to speak his name. At this moment, before anything has happened, Dimmesdale has the chance to show his will in a time of extreme difficulty and confess his sin. Instead he tells Hester, ''If thou feelest it to be for thy soul's peace, and that thy earthly punishment will there by be made more effectual to salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow sinner and fellow sufferer!''(Hawthorne 73). Dimmesdale is leaving his fate in the hands of a woman who he knows will not tell. He gives up all responsibility and control of the situation, which in turn, turns into guilt. In this act of cowardice, Dimmesdale receives a guilty conscience that starts him on his path toward suffering. From the moment of his cowardice he begins to feel the pain in his heart and not from the moment of his sin. If his sin is the reason for his suffering, then he would fell much more pain at the time Hester is being persecuted. As JFK said, "…a man must do what he can in spite of personal consequences…" If Dimmesdale confesses in spite of the consequences that follow he would be free internally and would not suffer as greatly. Dimmesdale's first act of cowardice to speak out and confess, with Hester, starts him on the path of suffering. However his lack of...

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