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The Character Of Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter

1732 words - 7 pages

The Character of Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter

 
     Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, provides us with

intricate characters to analyze and evaluate.  Hawthorne carefully

constructs his characters, giving them each different emotions, values,

physical attributes, and thus creating different souls.  One sees character

development throughout the book, until at the end, one is left with an

image of a seemingly "real" person.  One of Hawthorne's carefully

constructed characters is, Arthur Dimmesdale.  With Arthur, one sees how

sin changes him dramatically, causing in him moral conflicts.  Dimmesdale

is continually trying to see who he is.

 

 

        In the beginning of Hawthorne's novel, we are introduced to Hester

Prynne, who has been condemned for adultery.  Through this sin, she has a

child named Pearl.  The bigger controversy though, is who is Hester's

"partner in crime."  But for seven years, Hester does not reveal it to

anyone, not even her husband, Roger Prynne, who comes to town the day she

is brought up on the scaffold.  Prynne is not happy about finding his wife

convicted of being an adulteress.  He feels that the other guilty party

should be up on the scaffold with her.  His deep want to find the guilty

party, leads him to disguise his identity, and he becomes, Roger

Chillingworth.  Hester agrees to keep his secret.  The novel takes us

through the seven years that Hester keeps quiet.  A reader of the novel

finds out early that Arthur Dimmesdale is the man Hester is trying to

protect.

 

 

        One notices, that even in the beginning, there is deep inner

conflict affecting Dimmesdale.  On the scaffold stands his parishioner, and

his lover, Hester.  She is publicly paying for her sin of adultery, and

although she has the opportunity, she does not reveal Dimmesdale to the

public.  Dimmesdale is lost.  He wants to confess, but he is scared.  He is

a clergyman.  How would the public view him?  Would they look at his sin,

and be disgusted?  Or, would they look at his sin, and find him stronger

for confessing?  Dimmesdale, does not know.  Thus, he chooses not to tell

what he did.  It is this choice, which brings about his downfall.  From

this point on, we see Dimmesdale become weaker and more dependant.

 

 

        Chillingworth, claiming to be a doctor, befriends Dimmesdale.  The

two men live together, without knowing the other's real identity.  But,

soon enough, the truth comes out.  Chillingworth discovers a marking on

Dimmesdale's chest, leading him to realize that the clergyman is guilty.

Hester reveals to Dimmesdale, the true identity of Chillingworth.  At this

point, there are no more secrets, in this triangle of sin.  These three

characters all know the truth about one another, but they go on living as

if nothing...

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