Dimmesdale experiences pangs of conscience and has to deal with this pain on his own, without the opportunity to tell about it to anybody. Such a private guilt has a significant influence on his physical and emotional state. At the same time, Hester, his lover, also has to deal with guilt, which is of another character though. In particular, her guilt is exposed to the public, and, perhaps, everybody in the town knows that she has committed adultery. At first, when the society gets to know Hester has committed such a grievous sin, people condemn her and avoid her presence, which leads to Hester’s complete isolation. However, with the time passing, her public position starts to improve. She herself gets to know that public disapproval and isolation are the worst things that she has already overcome; consequently, she can move on and start a new life.
Unfortunately, Dimmesdale cannot do the same to his life. On the contrary, as the novel develops, he is getting worse and worse. First of all, it is his physical state that declines. This is how Hawthorne describes what is going with Dimmesdale: “His cheek was paler and thinner, his voice more tremulous than before” (92). In other words, keeping such a horrible secret and the lack of opportunity to share it at least with one soul exhausts his body. In addition to this, his mind is also corrupted by his silence. He gets more turbulent, restless, and haunted, and people start to notice “[…] gloom and terror in the depth of the poor minister’s eyes” (Hawthorne 97). Also, Chillingworth starts to suspect something is going on: “A bodily disease […] may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part” (Hawthorne 103). While Hester has to wear a scarlet letter on her dress so that everybody sees it, Dimmesdale burns the same letter out on his chest to atone for his guilt but the fact that nobody can see it burns him ...
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(“The Scarlet Letter Essay Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 words”, n.d.)
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(The Scarlet Letter Essay Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words)
“The Scarlet Letter Essay Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/english/701286-the-scarlet-letter-essay.
This paper reviews Hawthorne’s novel from a new, conformity vs. individuality angle. The context in which the novel was created is discussed. Hester’s silent challenge against conformity is evaluated. The paper reviews the place of Dimmesdale in the development of the conflict and assesses the gap between man’s law and personal uniqueness.
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