Essay On The Character Of Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale In The Scarlet Letter

Sometime throughout everyone 's life they come to a state of ambivalence, where they experience a sense of uncertainty within their own feelings. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the influential Puritan, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale must repeatedly deal with two conflicting arguments within himself. He has committed the greatest sin of adultery with Hester Prynne which goes against the very laws that he represents. Everyday he is reminded by his unholy sin by the Scarlet Letter attached to Hester’s chest. he believes he can not confess his sin in fear of losing the support from his congregation even though he knows that it is not right to go unpunished, and admitting to his crime will be his only form of redemption. These compelling …show more content…
Dimmesdale 's inner self is plagued by his hypocrisy during his sermons and is pained by his genuine impulses to tell the truth. “He longed to speak out, from his pulpit, at the full height of his voice, and tell the people what he was” that being “I, your pastor, whom you so reverence and trust, am utterly a pollution and a lie!” (124). His very existence relies on his religious beliefs, which he has be taught and reinforced his whole life, are now in question as he wants to tell people the truth but can’t bring himself to do it. This shows his compelling contradictions in his core character. These conflicting directions even prove to be affecting Dimmesdale psychologically- almost making him go mad. This is because all the emotional and mental torment has caused him to question who he is. At any moment he would stop “and then wondered if he were going mad” (131). Seeing how deeply this conflict is affecting him mentally, allows the reader to better understand his subconscious desires, such as coming clean about his sin. At specific points in the story, Dimmesdale faces the difficulty of racing contradicting thoughts and questions if people already knew his secret. On the way home one night “at every step he was incited to do some strange, wild, wicked thing or another, with a sense it would be at once involuntary and …show more content…
However, on a deeper level Dimmesdale actually experienced a worse type of punishment that Hester would ever know. He experienced the psychological punishment that forever haunted his thoughts. He experiences self-mutilation so he is able to relieve his guilt. This constant torment drives him to do questionable acts on his health, where some people even claim that he branded his own “A” on his chest as a form repentance. People viewed the A as “ inflicting a hideous torture on himself.” (228). This makes sense because he has been known to hold his heart with a sign of pain. Hester can even see the inner conflicting morals of Dimmesdale and how they are mentally tearing him down. She starts to realize that the punishment of guilt may be worse than keeping his secret after all. Seeing him this way she couldn’t help but to think “whether there had not originally been a defect of truth, courage, and loyalty, on her own part, in allowing the minister to be thrown into a position where so much evil was to be forboded, and nothing auspicious to be hoped.”(145). She finally realizes that his growing guilt and remorse is far more worse than her punishment, and the best thing may be to expose him. The sorrow and guilt of his sin was the ultimate reason of his downfall, and his inevitable death. His mind was so plagued by the tormenting

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