Arthur Dimmesdale Sins In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthrone

1198 words - 5 pages

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale falls in love with Hester Prynne and commits adultery. Although Hester is punished for her sin and is forced to wear the ‘A’ on her bosom for the rest of her life, Dimmesdale conceals his sin to the public because he is fearful of ruining his saintly image by voicing his secret. Throughout the novel, Dimmesdale is responsible for two sins, one of his adultery with Hester and the other of his pusillanimous failure to confess. Resulting from Hester’s adultery, Roger Chillingworth, Hester’s former husband, dedicates himself to seek revenge on Hester’s adulterous partner. In this way, the reader perceives Chillingworth as evil when in reality he goes to extreme depths to demonstrate his love for Hester. Although both Roger Chillingworth and Arthur Dimmesdale love Hester Prynne and are concerned about what the community will think of them, Dimmesdale’s love for Hester is insincere and devious because he is a hypocrite, a coward, and values Puritanical expectations of him above the people he cares most about.
Roger Chillingworth makes it his life’s purpose to seek out Hester’s partner and make him pay for his sin. However, Chillingworth’s underlying motivation for retribution is entrenched in his love for Hester. Although Chillingworth attaches like a “leech” (75) to Dimmesdale and wants more “revenge than any mortal had ever wreaked upon an enemy” (145), Chillingworth’s extreme desire for vengeance is rooted in his extreme love for Hester and therefore his actions are vindicated. Chillingworth is “most deeply and irreparably injured” (77) from Hester’s act of adultery and “lived in vain” (77). However, Chillingworth conceals the fact that he is Hester’s estranged husband when he “slowly and calmly raised his finger… and laid it on his lips” (63) to prevent public embarrassment. In conclusion, although Chillingworth hides the fact that he is Hester’s husband from the community and seeks revenge on Dimmesdale, his motivation is rooted in his devotion to Hester.
Dimmesdale’s phony love for Hester is represented through his cowardliness and spinelessness in confessing his sin. Although Dimmesdale is fully cognizant of his sin of not confessing his wrongdoing, he cannot muster the courage to admit his sin. For example, Pearl gives him an opportunity to publicize his secret when she asks him to, "stand here with mother and me, to-morrow noontide?" (159). While standing alongside Hester and Pearl on the scaffold unaccompanied by the community, Dimmesdale denies her plea because he is too cowardly to stand with them in front of the community. Even though standing with Hester and Pearl brings a “strange joy,” (159) Pearls request returns the “dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life” (159). Moreover, when Dimmesdale sees Reverend Wilson walking by, his feebleness is demonstrated because he cowers and stands speechless as the minister...

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