Hypocrisy In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter

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“Good” and “evil” do not exist. There are noble ones who use these abstract ideals to help society stay afloat, but often times they’re only in place to assert dominance and perpetual fear over others. 19th-century author, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter analyzes a system that follows the latter. In the book, we’re introduced to Arthur Dimmesdale, a respected minister, who, in a moment of passion, fathers a child with a married woman, Hester Prynne. Committing this sin causes constant distress for the minister, despite all that good he has, and continues to do. Hawthorne’s personification of Dimmesdale illustrates the detrimental effects man-made institutions enforcing “right” and “wrong” have on people.

Hawthorne emphasizes Dimmesdale’s guilt both at his sin and hypocrisy throughout the book. At the start of the novel, we see said culpability begin to manifest itself in the Minister, when he discreetly asks Hester to expose
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Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin?" That Dimmesdale mentions hypocrisy and “to hide a guilty heart throughout life” suggests that the Reverend knows that he can’t ever actually forgive himself, and needs to confess but is too afraid to do the deed himself. In reality, Dimmesdale has been trained to feel this way because of his close connection to Puritan society and God. This is shown later on, towards the middle of the book, when Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the

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