In Nathaniel Hawthorne ‘s novel The Scarlet Letter, the chief characters struggle to get the better of wickedness, guilt, and public humiliation in Puritan New England society. In the beginning of the novel, Hester Prynne is led to the scaffold to function her penalty for perpetrating criminal conversation, a offense in Puritan civilization. In add-on to standing on the scaffold to be publically condemned, Hester besides must have on a vermilion missive “ A ” to mean her wickedness of criminal conversation. The townsfolk, including Hester ‘s alienated hubby Roger Chillingworth, seek to uncover the individuality of Hester ‘s lover and the male parent of her bastard kid, Pearl. Hester refuses to publically acknowledge that Pearl ‘s male parent is Arthur Dimmesdale, the town curate ; because she believes she is protecting him from humiliation. However, Dimmesdale ‘s guilt causes him interior convulsion and leads to his physical hurting. At the terminal of the novel, Dimmesdale eventually reveals his guilt when Hester and Pearl join him on the scaffold, and he publically confesses his wickedness. After relieving his scruples, he dies in his lame province. Hawthorne demonstrates through Dimmesdale that the guilt of wickedness without penitence can burthen one physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Hawthorne illustrates that people can lose control of their physical well-being if overcome with guilt. When Dimmesdale is called to the governor ‘s sign of the zodiac to discourse the destiny of Hester ‘s bastard kid, Pearl, he experiences physical hurting caused by his guilt. While reasoning about the detention of Pearl, Dimmsdale is seen as “ picket, and keeping his manus over his bosom ” ( Hawthorne 125 ) . Pearl, the symbol of Dimmesdale ‘s wickedness, causes him to seize his bosom in torment because he is overcome with shame which leads to his physical agony. He sees his wickedness as a deficiency of devotedness to God, and he recognizes the lip service of perpetrating criminal conversation because he is a curate. However, he refuses to squeal his guilt because he fears the embarrassment and effects for his actions ; and hence, he can ne’er relieve his guilt to let go of his hurting. Although Dimmesdale refuses to admit his wickedness, he still seeks signifiers of repentance. He tries to decrease his guilt by floging himself repeatedly with “ a bloody flagellum ” ( Hawthorne 160 ) , but merely causes himself extra physical hurting. His cicatrixs from affliction fail to fade out his inner convulsion, as he continues to endure. Eventually Dimmesdale ‘s compunction drives him to go up the scaffold to acknowledge his wickedness publically. To go up at that place, he fights “ his bodily failing ” ( Hawthorne 280 ) to eventually acknowledge he is guilty of criminal conversation. This last trace of physical strength demonstrates that squealing his wickedness helps him to contend his failing. He no longer feels physically burdened by the guilt of his wickednesss after genuinely having repentance.
Hawthorne demonstrates that one ‘s outlook can be damaged by guilt. When Dimmesdale ascends the scaffold in the center of the dark with the purpose of squealing his wickednesss, he shows marks of a weak mental province. Upon the scaffold, Dimmesdale begins to lose his head, and without any “ power to keep himself ” ( Hawthorne 163 ) , he shrieks aloud. Dimmesdale, enduring from guilt because of his past injudiciousnesss, loses control due to his unstable head plagued with guilt. Without a clear scruples, he shows that his mental wellness suffers. In add-on to this mark of mental confusion, he besides portrays an indicant of his instability when he sees Reverend Wilson while on the scaffold. Dimmesdale can “ barely keep himself from talking to him ” ( Hawthorne 166 ) , and his mental province allows him to believe that he talks to the curate. However, Dimmesdale subsequently realizes he has non uttered a word, yet his guilt has caused him to believe he has spoken. The guilt of his wickednesss overcast his head and renders him incapable of separating his imaginativeness from world. In the concluding scaffold scene, Dimmesdale reveals a stable outlook after he admits his wickednesss. He courageously ascends the scaffold and admits his wickednesss to the populace. With his secrets revealed, he turns to Pearl and it “ seems he would be sportive with the kid ” ( Hawthorne 282 ) . Before his load is relieved, Dimmesdale neglects his girl with the fright of exposing his secret, but now he comes to footings with world because his outlook is non afflicted with the guilt of wickedness. The confusion of his troubled head is relinquished as his guilt is relieved, and he realizes he must admit and back up his girl Pearl.
Hawthorne illustrates the powerful effects of guilt on one ‘s emotions. During the meeting at the governor ‘s house to make up one’s mind who will have detention of Pearl, Dimmesdale reveals the emotional effects of his guilt. At the meeting, he is seen with his big dark eyes “ in their troubled and melancholic deepness ” ( Hawthorne 125 ) . He is showing that his compunction for the problems he has caused Hester has begun to take a clasp of him. Dimmesdale feels regretful for his wickedness, and he has formed an emotional connexion to Hester and Pearl ensuing from his guilt. After Chillingworth moves in with Dimmesdale to handle him, Dimmesdale reveals the emotional effects of a troubled scruples. Chillingworth begins oppugning Dimmesdale, fighting to expose his wickedness of passion with Hester. Dimmesdale refuses to acknowledge his wickednesss, yet he breaks into an “ indecent eruption of pique ” ( Hawthorne 151 ) . Through his reaction, Dimmesdale illustrates that his guilt is doing him to lose control of his emotions at the reference of his wickedness. With a clear scruples, Dimmesdale would be able to keep an emotional eruption, yet his emotions are plagued by guilt. During one of Dimmesdale ‘s walks in the wood, he coincidently encounters Hester. As they approach each other, they are “ in cold blood shivering in common apprehension ” ( Hawthorne 210 ) . They are both reminded of their ain wickedness and the ensuing guilt causes them to be overcome with the emotions of heartache and sorrow. Hester still bears the vermilion missive, which for Dimmesdale is a “ symbol of his iniquitous nature and complicity ” ( Burt 190 ) . Dimmesdale is further reminded of his guilt, stirring up unmanageable emotions of depression and sorrow.
During the concluding scaffold scene, Dimmesdale eventually relieves his guilt and intolerable sorrow for his wickednesss. He triumphantly ascends the town scaffold, and he is joined by Hester and his girl Pearl. Dimmesdale proclaims that he has committed criminal conversation, and he reveals a grade on his thorax, perchance an “ A ” carved into his organic structure, which shocks his devoted fold. Dimmesdale is no longer ravaged by the overpowering effects of his guilt, and he dies with a clear scruples. Hawthorne reveals that guilt without expiation can significantly impair a individual physically, mentally, and emotionally.