The End Of Dimmesdale Essay Research Paper

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The End Of Dimmesdale Essay, Research Paper The End of a Coward In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the cause of tragedy is centered upon the rigid Puritan society that leads to great consequences in the lives of sinners. Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale’s act of adultery greatly affects their lives and its result greatly alters their presence in the community. Hester handles her situation with as much dignity and pride as possible, confessing and bearing the punishments amiably. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, acts in a different and cowardly manner, as he is unable to confess his sin and accept society’s and God’s punishment. While Hester flourishes into a servant of God, Dimmesdale struggles to confess throughout the novel. Dimmesdale’s inability to

confess his sin and accept punishment eventually leads to his downfall. Arthur Dimmesdale’s inability to confess is strictly due to his fear of confrontation, thus characterizing him as a coward. The fact that Dimmesdale does not publicly acknowledge or reveal his sin only contributes in denouncing himself as well as his courage. His lack of a confession solely results in the loss of power, self-esteem, and dignity. His great lack of inner strength is easily grasped due to the lies he preaches every week for seven painful years about truth and in the manner in which he avoids confrontation. He spreads the word of holiness and goodness, yet he himself does not abide these simple laws of the Puritan lifestyle. The minister can only extol Hester when she refuses to reveal him as

the father by expressing “the wondrous strength and generosity of a woman’s heart!”(69), rather than confess his own half of the sin. He can only praise a woman who has more strength and power than himself, for degrading her would be extremely hypocritical for a man in his position. Throughout the story, Dimmesdale desperately tries to confess. Envying Hester for her courage, he says, “Happy are you Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom!” (188). Dimmesdale wishes he could stir up enough courage within him to confess, so he can face the proper punishment. For seven years, Dimmesdale withers in his own cowardice while wearing a mask of purity. By being the highly acclaimed preacher of his community, Dimmesdale feels it is his duty to represent the

model of a good citizen. His high position only invests higher quantities of dread and fear within, digging Dimmesdale farther into a hole of shame and failure. Dimmesdale inflicts torment on himself, including long periods of fasting. In addition to hours of staring at himself in the mirror, he could also be caught numerous times in his closet, whipping himself and burning the letter “A” on his chest, or at the scaffold in the wee hours of the morning, practicing how he is going to confess the next day. Dimmesdale is deluding himself by pretending that his private punishment is adequate. Similarly, there are also some things that go on that are out of Dimmesdale’s control. For example, bizarre thoughts and hallucinations take over him. His outward appearance also reflects

this. “His cheek was paler and thinner, and his voice more tremulous than before-when it had now become a constant habit…to press his hand over his heart”(118). “He thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself”(141). Proving, once again, that no good came out of his self-inflicted punishment. Even though he was privately repentant at home, his ministerial duties were carried out, attempting to keep his personal life out of the church. Dimmesdale desperately tries to punish himself to beg the forgiveness of God, but will not be able to get God’s forgiveness until he is brave and admits his sin. The minister’s meager attempt to admit his part of the sin seven years after it has occurred is yet another representation of