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The Scarlet Letter essay: Why was Dimmesdale’s Suffering Worse Than Hester’s?


In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Mr. Dimmesdale’s greatest trick is his sin of adultery with Hester Prynne. Mr.

Dimmesdale feared that his soul might not bear the embarassment of such a disclosure due to the fact that of his status as an important ethical figure in society. As a result, he keeps his identity a secret as Hester is publicly mocked for their act of infidelity.

Regardless of his choice of guilt over pity, Mr. Dimmesdale’s private self-inflicted inner chaos that is intensified by the tortures of Roger Chillingworth, gnawed at his physical being and mental state, triggering much higher suffering than Hester’s public shame of the scarlet letter. Much of the suffering, physical and psychological, that Arthur Dimmesdale sustains is self-inflicted due to the enormous weight of his guilty conscience. Fearing that he would not have the ability to bear the punishment from the public, he picked to stay anonymous in his sins. In doing so, he ignored the amount of psychological torture and suffering he would withstand by his own hand.

By just admitting to himself, he does not meet the requirements of repentance, for there is nobody to forgive him however himself. He does not permit his conscience to be cleansed, and therefore should cope with his sins. His emotional pain leads him to cause pain with a “bloody scourge”, which he had actually frequently “plied on his own shoulders”( 99 ). He inflicts terrific physical pain in addition to his psychological torture. In the early Christian church, self-flagellation was enforced as a method of penance and filtration for disobedient clergy and laypeople.

In the bible, Sayings relates that blows “clean away wicked” and stripes clean the heart (Prov 20:30). He is attempting to redeem and clean himself without confession, however this is impossible. Through this self-mutilation, he tries to ease his mental discomfort by inflicting self discomfort; he find this unsatisfying since he still overlooks to partake in the most important element of redemption, confession. He also carefully fasts, as another effort to cleanse his soul. Hawthorne writes, “it was his customized, too, as it has been that of numerous other pious Puritans, to quick,– not, nevertheless, like them …

But carefully, and until his knees shivered below him, as an act of penance”( 99 ). Consistently, fasting is typically used as a kind of purification and focus on spirituality. As soon as once again, he uses bodily discomfort as an attempt to ease his mental suffering. By taking part in this unsuccessful cleaning, he only subjects himself to higher psychological torture; what he studied and knew to be a treatment of guilt and sin only magnifies his own. The circumstance becomes hopeless when his methods fail him, and this gnaws at his faiths, which are the basis of his whole life.

He faces a whole id, and this is something Hester never ever had to endure. Yes, she withstood her own share of solitude and suffering, but never ever to the severe where she turned to self-mutilation to eliminate herself. He tries to redeem his damaged soul through numerous acts of contrition, but all is in vain due to the fact that it is all done without a confession. His abuse is all within himself; he is his own avoiding, gossiping townspeople and his own rock-flinging children. There is no place for him to hide.

He is totally absorbed by his sins and they eat away at him. Hester, who’s openly tortured by others while in the area, though it may be equally as upsetting at that time, is still lower than Dimmesdale’s suufering. Hester has an escape route. She has the sanctuary of her home outside of town, where she can escape the chatter and scorn. She also publicly embraces her accountability in the affair, which enables her to accept the penalty, carry on, and make something great out of it. Hester becomes a maternal figure for the neighborhood as a result of her experiences.

She cares for the poor and brings them food and clothes. By the end of the unique, the pity of the scarlet letter is long gone. She does not owe anything to the townspeople anymore. Some even forget what the scarlet A represents. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, as a well-respected minister, stands at the center of his community, being the advocate of spiritual and moral standards of that Puritan society. He should remain in the area, outwardly preaching to others about piety and remaining sinless, and internally feeling like an imposter.

Dimmesdale recognizes his fault in concealing his sin, but his desire to repent is consistently conquered by his yearning for public approval. He is their ethical compass, yet he himself is lost. This drives Dimmesdale to even more internalize his regret and self-punishment and causes still more degeneration in his physical and spiritual condition. Because of Dimmesdale’s choice to stay confidential, he automatically produces a duality in personality within himself that leads to the wear and tear of his mental well-being.

Dimmesdale, as the revered town minister, must keep up this dichotomy in character; he is constantly praised for his goodness and requested for ethical and spiritual suggestions, while he is troubled inside. Hester is totally free to be whom she pleases. The townspeople do not believe Dimmesdale’s protestations of sinfulness. Given his background and his fondness for rhetorical speech, Dimmesdale’s congregation typically interprets his preachings metaphorically instead of as expressions of any personal guilt.

He plays the literal meaning of his words off versus the context in which he speaks them. Dimmesdale’s tone of voice, his position as minister, his reputation as a saintly guy, and the category of the sermon allow him to state, “I am the best sinner amongst you,” but be comprehended to be simple, pious, and godly. His inner self is frantically trying to admit, but his self interested in public appearance just allows him to do it in a way that he wont be taken actually. He is essentially at war with himself.

By staying secret, Dimmesdale doomed himself to much greater suffering than if he were to be publicly condemned with Hester because he subjected himself to years of self-torture and an unyielding quest for unobtainable repentance. The function of Roger Chillingsworth in Dimmesdale’s torture magnifies the discomfort of the sin, causing much greater suffering than Hester who only engaged with the medical professional on sporadic occasions. As his name recommends, Roger Chillingworth is a man deficient of human heat. His twisted, stooped, deformed shoulders mirror his distorted soul.

Under the guise of a new medical professional in town with wholesome intentions towards the young minister and his health, Chillingsworth gets his trust and they move in together forming extremely peculiar codependent relationship. Chillingworth needs Dimmesdale to nourish his intelligence and to be the things of his obsessive desire that he can control and eventually destroy; Dimmesdale requires Chillingworth to keep his guilt alive, the consistent provoking from the medical professional for Dimmesdale to reveal his inner sin forces Dimmesdale to be continuously reminded of his transgressions. Chillingworth is like a leech. He draws Mr.

Dimmesdale’s vital force out of ill requirement for reparation for Dimmesdale’s actions versus him. Dimmesdale is unconsciously knowledgeable about his reliance of Chillingworth, for he can not and does not break away. Their relationship is explained in this quote, “Nonetheless, time went on; a kind of intimacy, as we have said, matured in between these 2 cultivated minds, which had as broad a field as the whole sphere of human idea and research study to fulfill upon; they discussed every topic of ethics and religious beliefs, of public affairs, and private character; they talked much, on both sides, of matters that appeared individual to themselves.”(P #).

Chillingworth lived and prospered off the pain and guilt he constantly caused on Dimmesdale, and in a twisted way Dimmesdale depended on this mental abuse to advance his self-inflicted look for forgiveness. The function of Roger Chillingsworth in Dimmesdale’s torture intensifies Dimmesdale’s suffering, triggering Dimmesdale to endure vastly more than Hester who was able to prevent the evil doctor. Some argue that it was Hester who suffered the most throughout the book. They state that due to the fact that of her criminal activity Hester ended up being secluded from the other individuals in her society.

They exhibit this with the quote, “Who had been familiarly familiarized with Hester Prynne, were now impress as if they saw her for the very first time was the Scarlet Letter, so remarkably embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom. It had the impact of a spell taking her uncommon relations with mankind and enclosing her in a sphere by herself. “( 61 ). She became lonely, and the scarlet letter was a burden that Hester had to carry everyday of her life, and the sign, which separated her from any other human being.

It caused Hester to be ostracized, but Dimmesdale’s cowardice in not admitting lead ultimately, to his death. Hester had a horrible penalty: she needed to use a scarlet letter for the rest of her life. But Dimmesdale’s internal battle with his own cowardice and guilt was far worse than a scarlet letter. He suffered the most as he constantly punished himself for his sin. Although Hester suffered the public punishment she handled it well and took it in stride, ultimately developing a favorable function for herself in the community and changing the meaning of the scarlet letter.

She had the ability to make amends and in time through kindness, change the meaning of the scarlet letter from “adulteress” to “able”. Dimmesdale on the other hand, has to always bear their sin inside of him never ever enabling it to become public. He was never provided the chance to make peace with himself. Instead of taking his penance openly he does it independently. He was required to continue to bear his private shame, while Hester had the ability to make peace with herself since she was strong enough to take her penalty, and grow despite of it.

Suffering is typically viewed as an unconscious effort to alleviate painful feelings of guilt. Arthur Dimmesdale’s option of regret over pity led him to experience a good deal of physical and psychological suffering. Hester admitted to her sin and had a clear conscience, which enabled her to carry on with her life and grow as a person. Mr. Dimmesdale’s choice of anonymity in not admitting his wrongdoing to the public, resulted in his suffering through the guilt of his sin, a discomfort that was only exacerbated by the tortures of Roger Chillingworth, and ultimately led to his painful and terrible death.

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