Essay on Purpose Of Secret Closet By Mr. Dimmesdale

1891 Words Dec 24th, 2016 8 Pages
Purpose of secret closet

Dimmesdale has peculiar night activities. Hidden from the public eye, Dimmesdale practices mortification of the flesh in his “secret closet” as his way of coping with his guilty conscious. “In Mr. Dimmesdale 's secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. [Dimmesdale] plied it on his own shoulders; laughing bitterly at himself the while, and smiting so much the more pitilessly, because of that bitter laugh” (132).

The poor minister suffered from unbearable guilt and shame at having consciously committed a crime and worst, not publicly confessing his sins as Puritan law requires. A guilty conscious burdens him; relief can only be found in severe punishment. Dimmesdale feels this is necessary since his crime would have gone unpunished otherwise. He believes himself to be more despicable now that he has kept the public and his devoted followers in the dark about his own sins. Worse, he thinks himself a hypocrite for deceiving people into thinking he embodies goodness and purity. Therefore, as an act of penance, Dimmesdale practiced mortification of the flesh within his secret closet. The minister vigorously fasts, whips himself with a scourge, and has constant vigils. He spends hours in his secret closet subjecting his body to self-inflicted pain and denying it the food and rest it needs to physically support itself. In addition, Dimmesdale returns to abstinence as a way of denying himself of the bodily passions and appetites that…

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