Arthur Dimmesdale Essay, Research Paper
Arthur Dimmesdale In The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale was a greatly respected reverend in Boston. Although he was unmarried, he was guilty of sleeping with a young English woman named Hester Prynne. Hester was originally from Amsterdam, where she and her husband lived for a few years. Her husband, Roger Chillingworth sent her to the colonies and told her that he would soon join her. Dimmesdale s greatest sin was not committing adultery; however, it was his refusal to confess to the public that made him such a sinful character. Although many readers may accuse Dimmesdale as being selfish or even cowardly, Dimmesdale is in reality a very bold and courageous character. When the public realized that Hester was pregnant with a baby girl with an unknown father, the crowd was furious and condemned her immediately. She was sent to the scaffold in front of everyone and she also had to wear a patch with the letter A , which basically ostracized her from the whole society. Meanwhile, nobody even knew about Dimmesdale and everyone continued to look at him as a pure and righteous minister. Dimmesdale kept silent for seven years about the whole incident. It is easy to say that Dimmesdale is a greedy character because he wasn t punished and he didn t do anything about it, however, he was punished. He takes it very grievously to heart (pg. 48). He was so upset about his sin that he even began tormenting himself. Dimmesdale could have easily forgotten about the whole thing and could have moved on with his life, however, the pain continued to linger in him throughout the whole seven years. Even the elder ministers began questioning Did he wish to die? (Pg. 112). As the years passed, his guilt festered in his heart and His form grew emaciated; his voice, though still rich and sweet, had a certain melancholy prophecy of decay in it (pg. 110). In spite of the fact that he wasn t publicly punished, Dimmesdale was indeed punished: Dimmesdale tormented himself with self-shame and punishment. The simple solution for his problem would have been to confess to the public. This seemed most logical, but we have to understand that this was easier said than done. We forget that Dimmesdale was the role model of the community. He yearned to be perfect and wanted to be holy before God. For these reasons, it was very difficult for Dimmesdale to confess to the community because everyone expected so much from him. Dimmesdale was almost forced to be perfect. However, Dimmesdale still desired to tell his congregation. Even during some of his sermons, he almost told the public about his sin. He hated the fact that he was too weak to confess that he punished himself.
On the bright side, the seven years of Dimmesdale s silence allowed the reverend to become even a stronger influence on the congregation. Even in his sermons he was able to preach with a discourse which was held to be the richest and most powerful, and the most replete with heavenly influences (pg. 145). Because of these reasons, it was a positive that Dimmesdale waited seven years to confess, for if he had confessed earlier, then he would have loss all respect of the congregation and most importantly, he would have loss all the good ministry. Although God continued to use Dimmesdale in his congregation, the public veneration tortured him! (Pg. 131). Finally, at the end of the novel, Dimmesdale was able to overcome his problem by confronting the public about his sin. It not only took a lot of courage, but also, humility. When he presented himself before the crowd, he was exposing his vulnerability and showing everyone that he is no better than anyone else. When he said behold me here, the one sinner of the world! (Pg. 231), he is insinuating that he is the greatest sinner of the congregation, proving to everyone that he is just as sinful as everyone else. Because of the way Dimmesdale recovered from his mistakes and how he lived his life during the seven years, it is clear that Dimmesdale did indeed live an honorable life. Not only was he greatly used by God in his congregation, but he was also able to overcome his weakness by confessing to the public. He could have easily ignored and forgot about Hester, but he didn t run away from his problems, instead he confronted them. The reverend is most respected although it took him seven years to do the right thing. Even in Nathaniel Hawthorne s view, Dimmesdale is portrayed as a respectable character. One of his morals of the story was to Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred. (Pg. 236). That is exactly what Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale did in The Scarlet Letter, because he was true to his congregation. At the end he didn t lie, but he was blunt and straightforward. He also showed his true identity freely to the public, even though he was at such a high position. The reverend was able to learn from his mistakes and face the consequences of his sins; and because of that, he should be regarded as one who is admired, rather than one who is condemned.