Confessions Of A Sinner In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Confessions of a Sinner In Puritan society, public confession is required by the Church to show shame but also redemption. This concept of shaming in order to redeem oneself, is time-tested, meaning this belief has been used consistently. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Reverend Dimmesdale is a living example of just that. Throughout Ernest W. Baughman’s article, Public Confession and The Scarlet Letter, his audience receives another view of the characters and the novel itself. Analyzing Baughman’s article forces readers to question the climax of the novel, revisit the characterization of Reverend Wilson, and judge the actions of Reverend Dimmesdale, therefore, creating a deeper interpretation of The Scarlet Letter. There is …show more content…
Baughman distinctively states, “If we can assume that Dimmesdale completely believes his position on confession… we may ask whether he is culpable in any other actions.” (Baughman, 211). In other terms, Baughman is expressing that Dimmesdale is demonstrating, or even symbolizing hypocrisy. Since he is a minister who has committed adultery, Dimmesdale has ignored his values, thus making him hypocritical. I agree with Baughman’s statement, because if Dimmesdale is truly a hypocrite, who knows in what other situations he could be hypocritical about! In addition, I wonder if Dimmesdale’s dishonesty is to blame for any other events taken place in the novel. Next, Baughman argues, “One [action] that should immediately come to mind is his complete disregard for the state of Hester’s soul-or Pearl’s- until the very end of his life.” (Baughman, 211). Baughman clearly discusses how Dimmesdale will not defend his lover, Hester, or his daughter, Pearl, when they are being victimized by the Puritan community. These actions illustrate hypocrisy, because although Dimmesdale has also committed a crime, he is allowing his loved ones to be punished for their mistake, along with Dimmesdale’s as well. As Dimmesdale cries, “Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret!” (Hawthorne, 131). In this dramatic quote, Dimmesdale is arguing with Hester, claiming that she is lucky, because she wears her crime, portrayed through the scarlet letter, openly to the community, while he must deal with his sin secretly, causing him guilt and shame. Readers are supposed to feel sympathy for Dimmesdale, at this point in the novel, but no one actually does, because Dimmesdale just sounds like a hypocrite! Dimmesdale has made the choice to keep his crime covered up in secret, and to feel guilty about his sin. In other words, if Dimmesdale would have confessed of adultery,

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