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Reverend Dimmesdale's Guilt In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

841 words - 3 pages

The Guilt of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter

 

God does not like the sin of adultery. He does not like lying. He does not like hypocrisy. There are two roads that one can choose. In the end, what may seem like the easy way may have far greater consequences than the hard way. Arthur Dimmesdale chose the easy path and learned that the pain of guilt is far greater than the pain of shame.

 

From the start, Dimmesdale did not want to live with the consequence of his sin. To begin with, he must of told Hester not to tell anyone about his sin, because on the scaffold, she will not tell anyone (pg. 64). Clearly, Dimmesdale was afraid of the justice and the shame that would follow. He thought that if no one knew, he could continue with his life normally. Yet, he began punishing himself secretly (pg. 133). Slowly though, the sin began to nag at him, and he had to beat himself to sooth his conscience. This shows that he has a conscience and that he is beginning to feel convicted. Late in the book, he finally confesses before the town, but then dies (pg. 231-233). As can be seen by his confession, he had the heart to change, but only then he realized that it was too late. His death marked the effect of the poisonous sin that had accumulated in him. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, just as repentance leads to salvation, a lesson Dimmesdale did not learn until it was too late.

 

Dimmesdale is very hypocritical in how he handles the subject of his sin. For example, he says "Be not silent from any mistaken pity or tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy 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-yea, compel him, as it were-to add hypocrisy to sin?" (pg. 63). Here he says that it would be better for him to come down and stand on the scaffold than to keep in hiding. He even calls himself a hypocrite, but his concern for his reputation keeps him from doing the right thing. When Dimmesdale goes up on the scaffold, he must do it at night for fear of someone seeing him (pg. 136). This shows that his fear is still...

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