In the novel The Scarlet Letter, author Nathaniel Hawthorne discusses the dispute that occurs when an individual chooses to conform to society’ expectations , when their beliefs don’t match with those expectations. Hawthorne does so by using symbolism, characterization, and imagery to explain the inner struggles Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale experiences. In the beginning Scaffold scene, Dimsdale fails to start out as a sinner. He plays the role of the reverend within the community, acting to set a perfect example of the Puritan beliefs and society. In this scene, the focus is on the shaming of Hester for committing adultery. As the community is busy blaming Hester, Dimmesdale is secretly struggling with accepting his very own, very similar sin.
The central inward conflict Dimmesdale is that if the Puritan society finds out that their own paragon of righteousness and faith has sinned, the dogmatic Puritan views of Dimmesdale and God would corrupt. Although he knows what he has done, he still asks Hester to take full blame, proving he is unwilling to accept the society’s blame where it truly belongs. Though, on the inside Dimsdale is withering in pain and guilt over his predicament. He decides to use self mutilation as an exterior display of his inner guilt once he decides he can’t hold in his shame any longer. The “A” however remains hidden from the public and he continues to conform within society to his religious position. When Chillingworth fathoms the marking upon Dimmesdale it is established by Hawthorne that inner guilt cannot abide as a secret and shame cannot be confidentially contained without societal confrontation.
Dimsdale is able to hide in company of the night and the forest, and accepts his true identity;a sinner. When Hester and Pearl discover Dimsdale on the Scaffold, dimmesdale demonstrates his own morality, yet understands his position as moral outcast. Dimmesdale the. Makes the decision to out himself in front of the entire community through the symbol of the Scaffold.
Only during night though since he is still not willing to announce his guilt. Night represents secrecy throughout the book, the one place to go and be your true self. The scaffold represents nonconformity and sin, so it’s important that the night meeting of Hester, pearl, and dimmesdale should occur at this time and setting.
The scene in which the meteor appears as an “A” across the sky continues to foreshadows Dimmesdale’s announcement to the public of his sin, since the sky is very public and open just like his secrets soon will be. The scene then closes with the three creating a bond throughout their similarities and secrecy. This conception signifies the fact that strength comes from unity the sharing of burdens.
He decides to run from his shame by leaving town with Hester and Pearl. His darker side is revealed by descending into the forest, which also represents sin and lust. However, when Dimmesdale announces he won’t recognize Pearl as his daughter in public, his self acceptance decreases and as before he chooses the safety of conformity over the harshness of reality. Viewed as an angel sent from Heaven, Dimmesdale, eventually cannot contain his shame. In the second scaffold scene the minister realizes his nonconformity is due to his suppressing sin. Now in complete daylight ironically, Hester, Pearl and himself Are exposed to the public humiliation.
The painful struggle that dimmesdale has faced conveys the deeper message that humans and their flawed nature causes the members of society to disagree, yet our unquestionable desires can be managed and confronted. On the scaffold, dimsade resolves his inner conflict by acknowledging his true nature and sins. He shares the blame with Hester and finally ends his suffering. After recognizing his own sins and tells the public, he is able to die in peace. Dinsdales wrenching story relates The Scarlet Letter to the understanding that conformity is secondary to self justification.
Through the book it is noted by Hawthorne that even the most virtuous are flawed by nature and it’s useless to deny this fact. Dimmesdale’s ends with his death and the realization you can not escape lust.