Arthur Dimmesdale's Sickness

486 Words2 Pages
A Sickness of the Heart There are many maladies in this world to which the fragile human body can fall victim. Be it from disease or from physical injury, the end result is the same if the ailment is left unattended for too long. However, what happens if this sickness comes from within? When it crawls out from the deepest, darkest corners of the human soul to agonizingly eat at the fibers of one’s being? This sensation could very well be an insatiable guilt which can drive a man to the brink of insanity, and perhaps even to death’s door. Such tortuous feelings, especially when contained, possess an unfathomably immense danger. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale’s deteriorating physical appearance is caused by…show more content…
Hester is forced to publicly confess the object of her guilt, while Dimmesdale is too cowardly to follow suit. This proves that he instinctively draws away from public humiliation because he fears rejection, both from God and his fellow Puritans. It is at the first scaffold scene at which he, unbeknownst to the reader, begins his exemplification of human guilt. Later on in the story, because of his inability to confess his sin, Dimmesdale begins a phase full of self-inflicted torture, an example of this being fasting “rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him” (Hawthorne 96). Additionally, he kept in a secret closet, “under lock and key… a bloodied scourge” (Hawthorne 96) which he used to whip himself in an act of penitence. Finally, and perhaps the most severe, being the scarlet letter A that he carved into his own chest. This proves further that Dimmesdale’s thinning and scarred physique is symbolic of human weakness, as all of these consequences are rooted in Dimmesdale’s cowardice, and the toll which the hidden guilt is taking on his mind, body, and
Open Document