Dimmesdale Essay, Research Paper
In the novel The Scarlet Letter there are many characters. Out of the four important characters in the novel Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale has the best story. Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale has a very important role in the book, because if he was not in it there would be no book. Arthur Dimmesdale was the fellow adulterer, the father of the elf-child, Pearl, and the minister of the town.
“Dimmesdale was a person of very striking aspect, with a white,
lofty, and impending brow, large, brown, melancholy eyes, and a mouth which, unless when he forcibly compressed it, was apt to be tremulous, expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint. Notwithstanding his high native gifts and scholar-like attainments, there was an air about this young minister – an apprehensive, a startled, a half-frightened look-as of being who felt himself quite astray and at a loss in the pathway of human existence, and could only be at ease in some seclusion of his own. Therefore, so far as his duties would permit, he trod in the shadowy by-paths, and thus kept himself simple and childlike; coming forth, when occasion was, with a freshness, and fragrance, and dewy purity of thought, which, as many people said, affected them like the speech of an angel. ” (Hawthorne 47)
This is saying that he was very sensorial and ascetic person.
As an ordained minister, he is well educated, and he has a philosophical turn of mind. However, he is very modest, and the persuasiveness of his sermons is of a quite kind. According to Hawthorne he is very liked by the people of the town because they believe that he is a very heavily devoted servant of God.
In any case, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is not God, because he made one flaw that he could not publicly acknowledge that he committed adultery with Hester Prynne and is the father of her little girl, Pearl. Adultery, however, is not Dimmesdales worst sin. But in fact, his greatest sin is not revealing that he is the fellow adulterer with Hester.
The Puritans, who lived in Boston at the time of the book, believed that a person must fit three criteria, which Dimmesdale did not fit. This is a good example of dramatic irony, because at this point we as the readers know that he is guilty of adultery, while the characters in the book have no clue, who the father of Pearl is.
In the story, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale held this secret for seven years. For keeping the secret for so long Arthur gave two reasons why. The first reason is that because people have secrets and if those secrets came out they would rapidly change the entire world they knew. It may be that they are kept silent by the very constitution of their nature. Or can we not suppose it guilty as they may be, retaining, nevertheless, a zeal for God s glory and man s welfare, they shrink from displaying themselves black and filthy in the view of men; because henceforward, no good can be achieved by them; no evil of the past be redeemed by better service. (Hawthorne 92)
The second reason is that he was afraid of losing his position as a minister in the town. He feared this because he spent so many years as a loyal and devoted servant of God.
Reverend Dimmesdale wanted to repent his sin, and almost revealed it during the sermon. He was on the verge of reveling his sin, but always seized before he let the words come out. For instance:
“A good evening to you, venerable Father Wilson. Come up hither, I pray you, and pass a pleasant hour with me!” Good Heavens! Had Mr. Dimmesdale actually spoken? For one instant he believed that these words had passed his lips. But they were uttered only within his imagination.”(Hawthorne 105)
For this Arthur Dimmesdale hates himself.
Since he did not receive any punishment from the people, he physically abused himself until he bled vigorously. Allowing Roger Chillingworth to abuse him mentally while he is doing it physically. This happens for the seven years that Dimmesdale kept the secret.
During the seven years his conscience keeps hurting him like Edgar Ellan Poe’s story The Tell Tale Heart, when one guy kills another and hides
him and then he gets the largest guilt of all time. Also through the years Dimmesdale becomes sick and weak from the guilt.
The morning of the Holiday Dimmesdale gives his sermon. His speech left the people speechless.
“The eloquent voice, on which the souls of the listening audience had been borne aloft as on the swelling waves of the sea, at length came to a pause. There was a momentary silence, profound as what should follow the utterance of oracles. Then ensued a murmur and half-hushed tumult, as if the auditors, released from the high spell that had transported them into the region of another’s mind, were returning into themselves, with all their awe and wonder still heavy on them. In a moment more the crowd began to gush forth from the doors of the church. Now that there was an end, they needed more breath, more fit to support the gross and earthly life into which they relapsed, than that atmosphere which the preacher had converted into words of flame, and had burdened with the rich fragrance of his thought.” (Hawthorne 171)
That speechless that the people believed that he was so high, so wise, and so holy a spirit. Unfortunately that was his best and last sermon that had given.
After the sermon, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale finally got the courage to repent his sin. He asked Hester and Pearl to come up to the scaffold, while everyone there was watching.
“As the ranks of military men and civil fathers moved onward, all eyes were turned towards the point where the minister was seen to approach among them. The shout died into a murmur, as one portion of the crowd after another obtained a glimpse of him. How feeble and pale he looked, amid all his triumph! The energy – or say, rather, the inspiration which had held him up, until he should have delivered the sacred message that had brought its own strength along with it from heaven – was withdrawn, now that it had so faithfully performed its office. The glow, which they had just before beheld burning on his cheek, was extinguished, like a flame that sinks down hopelessly among the late decaying embers. It seemed hardly the face of a man alive, with such a death-like hue: it was hardly a man with life in him, that tottered on his path so nervously, yet tottered, and did not fall!” (Hawthorne 173)
When Hester and Pearl stand by him, he tells Hester that he is dying and must acknowledge his shame. Then he turns to the crowd and repents his sin. As soon as he declared that he was Hesters lover and Pearls father. He ripped off his ministerial band from his breast and, for a moment, he stands flushed with triumph before the horrified crowd. Then he sinks down upon the scaffold.
People of New England, ye that have loved me! ye, that have deemed me holy! behold me here, the one sinner of the world! At last! at last! I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood (Hawthorne 175)
At the point after Dimmesdale actually fell and died in Hester’s arms he said,
By bringing me hither, to die this death of triumphant ignominy before the people! Had either of these agonies been wanted, I had been lost forever! Praise be his name! His will be done! Farewell! (Hawthorne 177)
Throughout the novel, Dimmesdale’s character changed very dramatically. At first he was a person that was very afraid, had melancholy eyes, tremulous mouth, self-restrain, and a striking aspect. He was a person of very striking aspect, with a white, lofty, and impending brow, large, brown, melancholy eyes, and a mouth which, unless when he forcibly compressed it, has apt to be tremulous, expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint. (Hawthorne 47)
Then as his character progressed he became less nervous, not as weak, he stands up straight, and he does not have his hand over his heart.
Had he exhibited such energy as was seen in his gait and
air with which he kept his pace in the procession. There was no feebleness of step, as at other times; his frame was not bent; nor did hid hand rest ominously upon his heart.
His strength seemed not of the body. It might be spiritual,
And imparted to him by angelic ministrations. (Hawthorne 165)