The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

1005 Words 5 Pages
CRAM Exclusive
Essay Sample
“A bloody scourge…rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance.” (Hawthorne, 141) In the Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Minister Dimmesdale starved himself, whipped himself, and tortured himself to get rid of the guilt caused by his sin with Hester Prynne. Hawthorne describes the minister’s guilt as the evil that anchored him down and shows how Dimmesdale tortures himself but can never get rid of it. His guilt came from many things. First was his guilt

middle of document…

Dimmesdale says that “The heart, making itself guilty of such secrets, must perforce hold them, until the day when all hidden things shall be revealed...the hearts holding such miserable secrets as you speak of will yield them up, at that last day, not with reluctance, but with a joy unutterable.” (Hawthorne, 127-128) The imagery of the plant and the joy of revealing the sin and being free from the guilt shows how Dimmesdale feels about the guilt. Although he does not exclaim it outright, he is indirectly saying that he cannot contain his guilt any longer, and that he must expel his guilt and sin by revealing it all on the judgment day upon which he shall “have a joy unutterable.” This is shown in chapter 17-20 where his guilt for not being with Hester upon the scaffold and revealing himself is shown.
Hawthorne uses large amounts of repetition dealing with pain when he addresses the topic of guilt in Dimmesdale. This guilt came from his conformity with society and his not addressing the fact that he was the fellow adulterer to Hester, so that she may not suffer alone. Hawthorne shows this when Dimmesdale whips and starves himself with “a bloody scourge…rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance.” (Hawthorne, 141) This quote from Hawthorne shows how the
CRAM Exclusive

Related Documents

  • The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

    Hawthorne uses a metaphor to characterize the result of not repenting to a “bodily disease”, which emphasizes the internal damage dealt. His diction, specifically the verbs “gnawed” and “tortured”, give a sense of how vicious the consequence of not repenting is. The color black highlights the solemn and pernicious effect on Dimmesdale’s soul. Undoubtedly, Hawthorne feels that repentance must be made, and it must be made in the right ways. Through kinetic imagery and metaphor, Dimmesdale’s actions

    Words: 957 - Pages: 4
  • Essay on Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    This comes as a surprise to the people, even the ones who had known her before, that Hester will carry herself with confidence and poise no matter the circumstances. Physicality reflects Romanticism for Hester Prynne due to the fact that Hawthorne shows acceptance in Hester, while he is describing her with an astounding beauty. The physical attributes of Hester are what gives Hawthorn the acceptance and favor that he has for her character. We know this because in contrast, Arthur, who represents

    Words: 1287 - Pages: 6
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay examples

    to shun an innocent child from society solely because she was born from a mother who has committed a sin not the child. Hawthorne is commenting that even though Hester has committed the most sinful deed, but even what she has done is nothing compare to what the Puritans have done to them. Based on his representation of the cruel Puritans and the mistreated outcasts, Hawthorne may have felt the early 19th century America was treating the African Americas unfairly because even though the African Americans

    Words: 1243 - Pages: 5
  • Dimmesdale’s Moral Tragedy in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    mysterious ways. However, the idea that He would put a letter on a man’s chest seems somewhat preposterous. Looking at Dimmesdale’s previous actions in the novel, self-mutilation can easily be seen. In chapter eleven, we learn that “in Mr. Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge. Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders; laughing bitterly at himself the while . . .” (Hawthorne 133). A scourge is a whip; to ply is to use or wield

    Words: 1239 - Pages: 5
  • A Plea for Truthfulness in "the Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    “And thus, while standing on the scaffold, in this vain show of expiation, Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great deal horror of the mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart.” To Dimmesdale, the scaffold was the only place he can atone for his sin and be true. The scaffold makes its final appearance at the end of the book. In the daylight, Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale all stand on the scaffold. Dimmesdale confesses to his sin, and once his

    Words: 850 - Pages: 4
  • Suffering from the Tolls of Sin in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    She is described as "the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life" (93)! Due to Hester's guilty view of her daughter, she is unable see the gracious innocence in her child. Hester's views toward Pearl change from merely questioning Pearl's existence to perceiving Pearl as a demon sent to make her suffer. Hawthorne notes that at times Hester is feeling as if an "unutterable pain" (89) creates her penance. Hester even tries to deny that this "imp" is her child, "Thou

    Words: 824 - Pages: 4
  • Essay on Guilt in The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    and demands, "Let God punish!” (Pg.141), while crying, “Thou shalt forgive!” (Pg.141) In an attempt to prevent more guilt, Hester finds herself in the opposite situation, where by keeping a promise, her mister has been desecrated. Furthermore, Hawthorne uses Biblical allusions as evidence towards guilt changing Dimmesdale’s lifestyle. As the story progresses Dimmesdale’s attitude conflicts with itself and alters his normal way of life. The reverend Dimmesdale commands, “Take heed how thou deniest

    Words: 764 - Pages: 4
  • The Minister Who Commits Adultery in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    meaning of fasting. He fasts “rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him” (115). Dimmesdale is completely torturing and starving himself, which is not the meaning of fasting, especially in the Puritan religion. He even has his own scarlet letter that he wears

    Words: 1351 - Pages: 6
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Diction of the Scarlet Letter Essay

    trembled beneath him” (99). In the second scaffold scene, Hawthorne reveals that Dimmesdale believes it is time for him to unveil his identity. During the middle of the night, he stands upon the scaffold, pretending he too has a scarlet letter across his chest, hoping to erase the guilt intertwined in his soul. On Dimmesdale’s chest, where he has long felt “the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain,” he possesses his own ‘scarlet letter’ (144). After screaming loudly to let out his agony, Dimmesdale

    Words: 957 - Pages: 4
  • The Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Essay

    isolated symbol into a badge fashioned by a historical community.  The A becomes the Puritans' A, the emblem through which they impose their judgment on a violator of their communal values.  The letter thus brings the book's social and historical stratum into being, and by meditating on their use of the symbol Hawthorne can analyze the peculiar nature of the Puritans-their devotion to law and religion, their

    Words: 1923 - Pages: 8