TheTransformation of Dimmesdale In the novel, The Scarlett Letter, many characters gothrough transformations, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is a character who goesthrough changes in life.
The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, writes a story of astrict Puritan society, where its law and religion come together, usuallymaking it unlawful to sin. Dimmesdale, is a holy man in the community, and heis a sinner as well. Throughout the story, Dimmesdale’s transformation can beillustrated in three scaffold scenes. Dimmesdale is in denial of his sin, he isin fear of publicly admitting his guilt, and finally owes up to his sin.
The first scaffold scene takes places in front of the town’speople. 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, andhe wants to make sure no one is suspicious of his wrongdoing. He tries to coverhimself by telling Hester in front of the crowd to “If thou feelest it to be forthy soul’s peace, and that thy earthly punishment will thereby be made more effectualto salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow-sinner andfellow-sufferer!” (Hawthorne 39).
Dimmesdale is also described as a “a person ofvery striking aspect, with a white lofty, and impending brow; large brownmelancholy eyes,…and an apprehensive,…startled,…half-frightened look—as ofbeing who felt himself quite astray”…
(Hawthorne 39). As a result, hismelancholy eyes and nervousness illustrates a feeling of guilt, involving thedenial of sin of committing adultery. At the second scaffold scene, Dimmesdale tries to confesshis during the night. His conscience has been getting the best of him. He feelsguilt, and he believes he should be punished. However, he is afraid to confesshis 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 wasno 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 herclothing. Dimmesdale’s mental state has also changed due to his guilt.
He feelslike his Scarlett letter is being noticed by everyone. This is evident whenDimmesdale is “overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe weregazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart” (Hawthorne83). Later, his shrieks awaken Governor Bellingham and Mistress Hibbins.However, he is not seen standing at the scaffold. As a result, Dimmesdalepublicly fears admitting his guilt. At the final scaffold scene, Dimmesdale ultimately learns to come to terms with his sin by confession his secret to the Puritancommunity.
As Dimmesale powerfully delivers his sermon, it is said he looks”feeble and pale…amid all his triumph!” (Hawthorne 139). However, Dimmesdale showshe has broken free from the Devil, represented by Roger Chillingworth, when hesays to him, “With God’s help, I shall escape thee now!” (Hawthorne 140).Ultimately, Dimmesdale defeated his guilt and cleared his conscience, and thendies peacefully, in front of the scaffold. In The Scarlett Letter, each scaffold scene demonstratesthe transformation of Arthur Dimmesdale. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, showsus that the law of the land and the religion of the people made up the strictPuritan society. When Dimmesdale commits adultery, his transformation begins.
Dimmesdale, who is the holiest man in the community, struggles withacknowledging his sin, and having difficulty admitting his sin publicly;however, he finally takes full responsibility for his sin by confessing to the Puritancommunity.