Uploaded by PeachiKiwi on Apr 21, 2001
Sin is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as, “any offense, fault, or the willful breaking of religious or moral law.” Mankind is prone to some degree of sin: it is a barrier that can not be avoided. But it is a question as to what mankind can do in order to achieve redemption from sinister ways, and also how to redeem. However great a sin may seem, it can only augment itself by the perpetrator not owning up and taking responsibility for it. In the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, perhaps the greatest sinner was Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale.
Many of Hawthorne's works center around what is right or wrong, and the consequences of breaking the basic links between humans by committing acts of sin (Brown). In this book, Reverend Dimmesdale is Hester Prynne’s secret lover, with whom he shares his sin, the sin of adultery. It is ironic that dispite Dimmesdale’s profession, he commits this sin. For a great amount of time in this book, author Nathaniel Hawthorne shows how this sin is frowned upon by many of the townspeople.
Arthur Dimmesdale is an eminent minister in Boston and also the father of Pearl. He is a tortured man who constantly places his hand over his heart when agitated. His health is quite bad, and it is thanks to Roger Chillingworth's potions that he is able to stay alive. Dimmesdale admits to being Pearl's father at the very end of the novel, and reveals that he has a scarlet letter branded into his flesh. He dies upon the scaffold while holding Hester's hand.
For seven long years, Mr. Dimmesdale lacks the courage to admit his guilt publicly, which puts a tight clamp on his conscience and soul. His sin is prolonged inside of him, festering in every corner of his body and plaguing in his mind.
While Hester is standing on the scaffold with Pearl bearing the scarlet letter on her chest letting everyone know of her sin, she refuses to let the crowd know who the father of her child is. She declares, “I will not speak! And my child must seek a heavenly father; she shall never know an earthly one!” (Hawthorne 47). In this is same scene, the author connects Hester's openly displayed shame with Dimmesdale's secret shame by having both characters touch the spot where the scarlet letter is displayed (Smith). He also feels that, “what he...