The Importance Of Guilt In The Scarlet Letter

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“‘The judgment of God is on me,’ answered the conscience-stricken priest. ‘It is too mighty for me to struggle with!’. ‘Heaven would show mercy,’ rejoined Hester, ‘hadst thou but the strength to take advantage of it.’”. In the Scarlet Letter, Dimmesdale cannot handle the guilt of his sin and when Hester offers advice to help him deal with his sin like she did, he cannot accept it. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale allows his guilt to consume him because he is unable to deal with it, as he physically deteriorates his mind is weakening, it plays tricks on him causing hallucinations and torturous visions. Hester demonstrates her strength by her ability to bear the shame of confessing her sin and wearing the scarlet letter, the way she deals with her …show more content…
When he is around Hester and Pearl, or reminded of his guilt he clutches his heart in pain. Along with the physical pain in his chest caused by his guilt, he inflicts pain on himself by starving himself, denying himself sleep and whipping himself. Dimmesdale attempts to deal with his guilt “by inflicting a hideous torture on himself”. These self-destructive acts cause him to be in more pain, instead of the intended result which was to help him deal with not confessing his sin by punishing himself. Hester’s guilt also had an affect on her physically, after 7 years of dealing with her guilt her physical appearance changes drastically. “It was a sad transformation, too, that her rich and luxuriant hair had either been out off, or was completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine… Much of the marble coldness of Hester’s impression could be attributed to the circumstance that her life had turned…” (154-155). Her appearance symbolizes the affects of the punishment put upon Hester by the strict society, being no longer described as a beautiful woman but as a cold, hidden woman demonstrates how she changes while bearing her shame. How Dimmesdale and Hester’s guilt affect them differently physically represents how Hester is stronger than Dimmesdale because Dimmesdale’s physical pain is far more intense than Hester’s and he …show more content…
“Such helpfulness was found in her, -so much power to do, and power to sympathize, - that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification… so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength”(56). Hester’s helpfulness causes the members of the Puritan community to recognize the letter “A” as representing able, not adulteress. After enduring a period of demeaning looks from her fellow Puritans, her social interactions begin to have a positive influence on her life as she is seen in a more positive light in her community which causes her life to be a little more positive. Dissimilarly, Reverend Dimmesdale’s social interactions cause him to be furthered tortured by his guilt. The praise from his congregation and being held at such a high standard by his community, cause him to be in more pain because of how lowly and horribly he thinks of himself. It also pains the Reverend Dimmesdale that his congregation does not see that he is in pain and that he can not turn to them for support and eventual forgiveness. The way that Hester uses her interactions with the community to work to be seen in a more positive light and how Dimmesdale’s interactions with the community further

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