Scarlet Letter Essay
In Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, there are many characters that experience significant changes. One particular example of character transformation can be seen with the young Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, who commits the sin of adultery with Hester Prynne. He is also commits the sin of hypocrisy.
It is clear that Dimmesdale experiences the greatest transformation out all the characters. At first Dimmesdale is considered the moral role model of the story, but due to his secret affair, Dimmesdale unwillingly changes. Initially, Dimmesdale description is being a young and handsome gentleman with big heart. Furthermore, Dimmesdale’s description states of him being a “a young clergyman who had come from great English university” which means he is a well educated man with much respect from his peers (Hawthorne 22). Agreeing that Dimmesdale is a kind and likeable young man is the description of his voice as “tremulously sweet, rich, deep, and broken” (Hawthorne 23).
This quote makes it clear that Dimmesdale is highly revered and everyone counts on him. The town places “the responsibility of this woman”, the woman being Hester, because of his trustworthiness and his role as reverend (Hawthorne 21). However, the guilt of his sin forces Dimmesdale to change quickly. As the story continues, Dimmesdale becomes sick and looks weaker because his guilt has consumed his youth. Dimmesdale is “suffering under bodily disease” because his guilt is causing him severe pain to both his physical and mental body (Hawthorne 103) On Dimmesdale’s chest, a “scarlet letter” appears that seems similar to the letter Hester has (Hawthorne 158). This shows that Dimmesdale is not only physically sick but also mentally in distress because the mark on his chest reminds him of the sin he has done.
In one instant he sees a figure in the shape of an “A” in the sky, “probably caused by one of those meteors” which shows that his guilt severely affects his psych (Hawthorne 116). Dimmesdale’s personality and physical appearance has gone through drastic changes. Towards the end of the story, Dimmesdale experiences internal struggles dealing with the temptations of evil, but overcomes these traps. More specifically, “at every step he was incited to do some strange” action, but he finds the courage to “oppose the impulse” (Hawthorne 187). Dimmesdale’s dangerous urge to commit more sins emerges because he is already a sinner and that initial exposure makes it easier for him to continue down the path of more sin.
After struggling with his guilt, he decides to escape with Hester and “begin all anew” somewhere else (Hawthorne 166). The thought of escape brings back his confidence, and he decides that he “need no more of your drug” to feel better (Hawthorne 193). Dimmesdale’s plan of escape with Hester causes him to make a miraculous recovery and he decides that he does not need any more of Chillingworth’s medicines. However, even his plans for escape do not clear away his guilt and so he tries to regain his innocence by exposing his secrets regarding his affair with Hester. In the eend Dimmesdale reveals the truth and admits to the affair in an effort to clear his conscious before he dies.
In conclusion, although many characters in the book experience change, Arthur Dimmesdale experiences the greatest transformation as guilt ate away at his once noble character. At first, he is the symbol of a perfect role model: he is highly educated, kind, and trustworthy. With these qualities, he was the last person anyone would expect to commit any kind of sin. Due to his high importance in the community, it is natural for him to hide his secret, but in the end, his guilt brought him to his death. His transformation consisted of him being a youthful and kind-hearted man into being a weak and depress soul who struggles to live with himself and his secret sin.
Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Los Angeles : Sweet Water Press, 2012. 1-137.