Dimmesdale's Sin In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both Dimmesdale and Hester have grievously sinned in the eyes of the Puritan community. However, while Hester lives with her guilt publicly displayed in the form of the scarlet letter and Pearl, Dimmesdale hides his sin from the community and tries to continue as their saintly pastor. Yet, this concealment is not without consequences, as Dimmesdale suffers from horrible guilt as he denies his sin from his community, and thus denies himself forgiveness for his sin. Finally resolving to tell the truth on his deathbed, Dimmesdale dies after triumphantly defeating Chillingworth, his personal tormentor. However, though Dimmesdale manages to overcome Chillingworth, he further succumbs to his own internal …show more content…
While Dimmesdale seems to emphasize just how much of a sinner he is, he does not explicitly confess to his crime. In fact, since Dimmesdale’s sermon echoes Jonathan Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by emphasizing his wretchedness and the fact that God’s mercy is the only reason he is still alive, this sermon really just makes Dimmesdale seem more saint like to the Puritan people, and emphasizes how much Dimmesdale believes in the Puritan religion to the community. Dimmesdale also clearly knows beforehand that the Puritans will only think higher of him because of this confession, and will not really believe that he is a sinner. He goes on to call himself a “subtle, but remorseful hypocrite” for using that confession tactic (130). One of subtle’s archaic definitions is to be crafty or cunning. Here, that definition fits perfectly. Dimmesdale, very cleverly, was hoping to relieve himself of guilt while still polishing his already immaculate reputation. However, once his method backfires, only generating more guilt, he continues to be penitent in other ways as long as there is no danger of his sin being revealed. Dimmesdale’s

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