The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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“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 for committing the crime with Hester Prynne. Second is his guilt for not being with her at the time that she was put upon the scaffold. Last was his guilt from not revealing himself to his own daughter and from having to stay out of her life due to …show more content…
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…

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