Sunday, June 26, 2011

Scarlet Letter - Why is Dimmesdale unwilling to take responsibility for his crime?

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In the novel 'The Scarlet Letter' by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale commits adultery with Hester Prynne. The townspeople find out about Hester, but she doesn’t tell anyone that Dimmesdale was involved. Since the townspeople knew Hester committed adultery she had to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest and went through public humiliation. The townspeople didn’t even suspect Dimmesdale of committing any kind of sin. To the townspeople Reverend Dimmesdale is the holiest and most perfect person in the town. I believe that Dimmesdale was unwilling to take responsibility for his crime because he was looked at as the perfect person so if anybody found out it would ruin his reputation, and he would be humiliated just like Hester was.

As a reverend and role model to the community in which he lived and served Dimmesdale didn’t take responsibility for his action because he didn’t want to loose his reputation as the holiest person in his town. For example, Dimmesdale had an opportunity to confess his crime to everyone, when Hester was on the scaffold being questioned by the governor and Reverend Dimmesdale. I believe when Dimmesdale was questioning Hester he didn’t want her to mention his name or else he would loose the trust of his people. Instead of confessing and being punished by the townspeople he inflicts his own punishment, which eventually led to the guilt driving him crazy. The punishments Dimmesdale puts himself through were far worse then what the townspeople would have done. Though, Dimmesdale believed that the punishments he puts himself through were better then the town knowing that he committed a crime. Furthermore, right before Dimmesdale died he got on the scaffold to try to confess his sin, but the townspeople didn’t understand exactly what he was doing and thought he just went crazy. This shows that even when Dimmesdale tried to confess, the townspeople didn’t believe him because of what a great person the townspeople believed he was.

To sum it up, I believe that Dimmesdale was unwilling to take responsibility for his action because he valued his great reputation more then being truthful. He had many opportunities to confess and come clean for what he did. When he did try to confess in front of everybody they didn’t understand what exactly he was doing.




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