Transformation of Dimmesdale
In the novel, The Scarlett Letter, many characters go
through transformations, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a character who goes
through changes in life. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, writes a story of a
strict Puritan society, where its law and religion come together, usually
making it unlawful to sin. Dimmesdale, is a holy man in the community, and he
is a sinner as well. Throughout the story, Dimmesdale’s transformation can be
illustrated in three scaffold scenes. Dimmesdale is in denial of his sin, he is
in fear of publicly admitting his guilt, and finally owes up to his sin.
The first scaffold scene takes places in front of the town’s
people. Dimmesdale is there to question, Hester Prynne, a woman is accused of adultery.
Dimmesdale is believed to be the father of Hester’s baby. He refuses to admit his sin of adultery, and
he wants to make sure no one is suspicious of his wrongdoing. He tries to cover
himself by telling Hester in front of the crowd to “If thou feelest it to be for
thy soul’s peace, and that thy earthly punishment will thereby be made more effectual
to salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner and
fellow-sufferer!” (Hawthorne 39). Dimmesdale is also described as a “a person of
very striking aspect, with a white lofty, and impending brow; large brown
melancholy eyes,…and an apprehensive,…startled,…half-frightened look—as of
being who felt himself quite astray”…(Hawthorne 39). As a result, his
melancholy eyes and nervousness illustrates a feeling of guilt, involving the
denial of sin of committing adultery.
At the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale tries to confess
his during the night. His conscience has been getting the best of him. He feels
guilt, and he believes he should be punished. However, he is afraid to confess
his sin to the community. This is evident when Dimmesdale tries to confess in
“a dark night in early May. A thick layer of clouds covered the sky…There was
no danger of discovery” (Hawthorne 83). Dimmesdale has branded the latter “A”
on his chest, just as Hester is forced to display it on the outside of her
clothing. Dimmesdale’s mental state has also changed due to his guilt. He feels
like his Scarlett letter is being noticed by everyone. This is evident when
Dimmesdale is “overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were
gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart” (Hawthorne
83). Later, his shrieks awaken Governor Bellingham and Mistress Hibbins.
However, he is not seen standing at the scaffold. As a result, Dimmesdale
publicly fears admitting his guilt.
At the final scaffold scene, Dimmesdale ultimately learn
s to come to terms with his sin by confession his secret to the Puritan
community. As Dimmesale powerfully delivers his sermon, it is said he looks
“feeble and pale…amid all his triumph!” (Hawthorne 139). However, Dimmesdale shows
he has broken free from the Devil, represented by Roger Chillingworth, when he
says to him, “With God’s help, I shall escape thee now!” (Hawthorne 140).
Ultimately, Dimmesdale defeated his guilt and cleared his conscience, and then
dies peacefully, in front of the scaffold.
In The Scarlett Letter, each scaffold scene demonstrates
the transformation of Arthur Dimmesdale. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, shows
us that the law of the land and the religion of the people made up the strict
Puritan society. When Dimmesdale commits adultery, his transformation begins.
Dimmesdale, who is the holiest man in the community, struggles with
acknowledging his sin, and having difficulty admitting his sin publicly;
however, he finally takes full responsibility for his sin by confessing to the Puritan