Hawthorne Use Dimmesdale And The Hypocrisy Of The Puritan Society

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How does Hawthorne use Dimmesdale's character to help emphasize the hypocrisy of the puritan society?
Puritan society of the 1800s saw the world in black and white, good or bad, right or wrong. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses Dimmesdale’s character, who is a minister in a puritan society, to highlight how this simplistic view of the world is full of hypocrisy. In a society that does not see people for the multiple dimensions they have, individuals are easily painted in a single dimension and expected to conform to society’s expectations or face the consequences of not complying. The Puritans, through their fixed religious mindset, simplistically saw Dimmesdale as a pure man that does nothing erroneous, merely because
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Hawthorne uses the forest setting to emphasize the comparative freedom Dimmesdale experiences there. In Chapter 12, while Dimmesdale is in the forest, he is “pleased” with the silence and simplicity. He goes on to describe the coldness of the “dank and chill night” and how it would “stiffen his joints with rheumatism”. Using this dark and cold language, Hawthorne is making the scene of the forest seem miserable, but Dimmesdale would rather suffer through this physical pain, than the pain bestowed upon him by society. After describing the forest, he goes on to say, “No eye could see him, save that ever-wakeful one which had seen him in his closet, wielding the bloody scourge” (Hawthorne TSL 126). Dimmesdale relaxes while he is in the forest because “No eye could see him”, therefore, he would not feel society’s pressure to be a perfect holy man who never does anything wrong. Significantly, this verse is an allusion to the New Testament verse “no eye hath seen...what God hath prepared for him that loves him” (I Cor. 2:9). With this idea, Hawthorne is showing that Dimmesdale feels somehow closer to God in the forest than he is inside his church in town. He feels this way because, in the forest, he is free from the standards and labels put on him by the Puritans regarding how a minister should act. Dimmesdale carries a burden of perfection from how his …show more content…
This resulted in much pain for Dimmesdale, because he yearned to express that he had his own faults and was not perfect. Hawthorne carefully uses Dimmesdale's character to help emphasize the hypocrisy of puritan society by having the most respected, adored man in the community be the one who committed the biggest sin. Hawthorne wants us to understand that everyone has multiple dimensions, regardless of the role they play in society. To not recognize that, leads to intolerable

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