Dimmesdale's Guilt In The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In the 1600’s, Boston was dominated by the English Puritans. The population was committed to their religion and one of the most frowned upon sins people were punished for was adultery. In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hester Prynne, a young woman who is awaiting the return of her husband, and Arthur Dimmesdale, the town’s beloved minister, commit this unthinkable sin together. Hester is the only one of the pair who suffers the consequences, because she refuses to disclose Dimmesdale’s name to the public, and is not only forced to wear a scarlet letter for the rest of her life, but also has to stand on a platform for three hours as a form of humiliation. Hawthorne hints that the scaffold Hester stood on is significant to the plot…show more content…
After giving his election speech, Dimmesdale has a moment of confidence and he asks Hester to “support me up yonder scaffold” (262). Hawthorne’s word choice in this line of dialogue is very important because by saying “support me” Dimmesdale implies the scaffold makes him weak with guilt even though the time has finally come for him to confess his sin. This is similar to how the scarlet letter weakens Hester and causes her to loses her natural beauty and confidence because the reminder of her so called sin dims the highlights of her personality, which is comparable to how the scaffold dims Dimmesdale’s physical and emotional strength in this moment and many others. After composing himself on stage, Dimmesdale calls out to the crowd that “now at the death-hour, he stands before” (264). By hinting to the audience he is Pearl’s father and then dying promptly afterward, Dimmesdale lets the scaffold’s effect get the best of him. The scaffold brought out one of Dimmesdale’s most defining traits in this moment: cowardice. Because Dimmesdale died of what one can assume was his all consuming guilt, the scaffold finally shows Dimmesdale’s true colors to Hester, informing her that he never cared for her all along; all he was concerned about and loved was his
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