?Arthur in particular, to demonstrate to the reader

?Arthur Dimmesdale is a protagonist in the novel The Scarlet Letter and understood to be guilty of two sins, one of commission (his adultery with Hester Prynne) and of omission (his cowardly and hypocritical failure to confess. The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850 and inspired by his Puritan primogenitors in the 1630s. Because of his knowledge of the Puritans he is able to describe their strengths and portray their weakness as a colony and community. Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is his depiction of the Puritan society and its flaws. It is important to acknowledge that the characters Hawthorne introduces are based upon his Puritan ancestry because he develops them as his own representations of the aspects of the Boston colony. Hawthorne uses Dimmesdale, in particular, to demonstrate to the reader the physical and psychological effects of guilt and confession on a character and the community around him in order to suggest that taking responsibility for one’s sin could potentially redeem oneself.?Dimmesdale is also described as having childlike credulity, simplicity, and habitually treading “shadowy by-paths” enjoying his own privacy. (Hawthorne 39) However when he comes out from his path into the light of day, he does with “a freshness and fragrance, and dewy purity of thought, which, as many people said, affected them like the speech of an angel.” (Hawthorne 39) This quote suggests Dimmesdale’s initial purity. Throughout the novel he endures a type of “Fall” of morality. An example of this is his description from the beginning  is different to how he is portrayed at the end because of Dimmesdale’s evolution in morality and character. The “Fall” is an actual occurrence in the life of every Christian who is almost never sure of the existent of their soul and so therefore must continually remind himself or herself, “I fell, I fall, I die daily that I may rise and live—even to fall and rise again.” (Davidson 358) His Fall is by a sin of the flesh, adultery, which he did not expiate. When exploring his sin, he refers to himself only in the third person; he establishes an “it” and “I” congruence between his spiritual being and his other humanly self. (Davidson 358) An example of this is when Dimmesdale says, “What can thy silence do for him…except…to add hypocrisy to sin? Heaven hath granted thee an open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over the evil within thee, and the sorrow without.  Take heed how thou deniest to him…the butter, but wholesome, cup that is now presented to thy lips.” (Hawthorne 40) This quote comes from a conversation between himself and Hester Prynne. He asks her silence the name of her fellow sinner. He refers to the sinner in the third person and is later proved that he is the sinner.??It is important to recognize that to the Puritans, and to Dimmesdale as a Puritan minister, the public exposure of sin is vital of importance to the sinner. This is why Dimmesdale chose to expose Hester for her sin at the scaffold in the center of town.  To the townspeople this utterance is clearly an order from a minister to a wayward member of his congregation but it does not really seem like that as one who grow to learn reading the novel. It is really Dimmesdale talking to his fellow adulterer but no one isn’t the congregation other than Hester and Dimmesdale know that. Terence Martin suggests that, “In the terrible ambivalence of his position Dimmesdale wants Hester to name him even as he does not want to be named. He would have her pin the letter on him, but he will not reveal his partnership in it.” (Pimple 258) This suggests that: the minister would have liked to be named and known for what sin he committed, adultery. Thus, when he speaks to Hester Prynne, the words themselves are true, pathetically so. Being named would not only bring shame and disgrace to both of them but it would also give Dimmesdale the relief of being clear in his own identity (which he does not attain until his death). His yearning for exposure and inability to confess can hardly be denied; but seen from Hester’s point of view, his plea becomes insidious, for he is “urging her to provide the name if she thinks it will be good for her own soul’s peace to do so (when, clearly, she would be full of self-hatred if she gave him away), while making clear to her that if she does not tell, he certainly will not.”(Pimple 259) The narrator tells us that there were other ministers more learned than Dimmesdale, others more shrewd, others more pure; but unlike Dimmesdale, all of them lacked “the gift that descended upon the chosen disciples, at Pentecost, in tongues of flame…the power…of addressing the whole human brotherhood in the heart’s native language.”(Hawthorne 141-2)  Dimmesdale becomes a “sad, persuasive eloquence” which the townspeople take to arise from his purity, though it actually owes more to his personal experience of sin. (Pimple 259) His eloquence speaks to the heart and its power comes more from pragmatics than semantics. (Pimple 259) For example, he would say to his congregation “I am the worst sinner among you,” (Hawthorne 87) a statement he believes to be true. But he knows fully well that his congregation, in ignorance of his adultery, will interpret this not as a confession, but as an example, even proof, of his humility and piety. Although his statement has a simple, straightforward, semantic meaning, his status as a minister and as a pure man in the eyes of the people and the genre of the sermon adds a pragmatic cover that changes the overall meaning of the message. (Pimple 260) This demonstrates how Dimmesdale “plays” on the Puritan doctrine of the innate depravity of man to say one thing and communicate another. He means what he says but he is heard to be commenting on the overall human condition rather than his own diminishing condition. His hypocrisy lives in the split between the semantic and the pragmatic meanings he means and conveys.?He begins to worry that his outward semblance may reveal his secret. The features of his eyes and mouth have been recast in Pearl’s face and as he realizes such he believes it could be the most common way to detect his paternity to her. One knows that Pearl has Dimmesdale’s feature because he admits he sees them himself in the conversation in the forest between Hester and himself. An example of this is when he says, “‘O…what a thought is that, and how terrible to dread it!'” he cries, “‘ that my own features were partly repeated in her face, and so strikingly that the world might see them.'”(Hawthorne 127)  However this is not the last time this idea will come up.?The forest scene is crucial in the narrative of the Scarlet Letter and a proper understanding of what happens in the forest is needed for any interpretation of Dimmesdale’s words and actions during the last days of his life and his final “confession.” His private conversation with Hester follows the same semantics and pragmatics pattern consistent in his public speaking. This scene starting in Chapter 16, “A Forest Walk,” and culminating in Chapter 19, “The Child at the Brook-Side,” is particularly important in terms of Dimmesdale’s moral character. It is here that the minister chooses sin consciously for the first time; before this, he had only transgressed “in a single instance,” and this “had been a sin of passion, not of principle, nor even purpose.”(Hawthorne 200) The minister is physically weak and hypersensitive, and therefore cannot control is cowardice or fear, but, as the narrator explains ever since committing adultery, Dimmesdale has found “acts…easy to arrange.” (Hawthorne 200) He enters the forest scene with “a nerveless despondency in his air, which had never so remarkably characterized him in his walks about the settlement, nor in any other situation where he deemed himself liable to notice” (Hawthorne 188) meaning that he entered unselfconsciously, without a false face vulnerable and possibly on the verge of death. He pours his heart out to Hester about how miserable he is, about how he might have found peace “‘ were I an atheist.'” (Hawthorne 191) She begins to try and comfort him by claiming that the congregation reverences him but he retorts that it has only brought him more misery, that he has “‘laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!'” (Hawthorne 191) Hester protests that his “present life is not less holy, in very truth, than it seems in people’s eyes,” that he had done “petinence through his good works,” (Hawthorne 191) but Dimmesdale cries out that “of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!” (Hawthorne 192) He says he envies her public shame and wishes that he had “‘one friend,—or were it my worst enemy!—to whom…I could…be known as the vilest of sinners.” (Hawthorne 192) In the first part of this scene, Dimmesdale holds complete sway in the conversation. He gives Hester the chance to unburden herself, knowing that she has prided herself these past seven years residing in her stoic, isolated silence. He says that he feels the need to be known for what he is, an adulterer, and manages to sermonize on all his faults and the agony he has endured in those seven years Hester has prospered. His deepest desire continues to be his urge to be seen as what he is but yet he finds it horrible to think that Chillingworth, knowing of his secret, could reveal it whenever he deems it fit. As in the first scaffold scene, he wants to be revealed but because of his cowardice he shrinks from the prospect of recognition. He proceeds to suggest that he flee from Boston and Hester passionately agrees to this so that he can find happiness and success in the old world (England) and hints they should flee together with Pearl. It is described that Dimmesdale begins to feel “a glow of strange enjoyment” (Hawthorne 201) once the decision was made to flee. In the second part of the forest scene the subject of the conversation switches to Pearl and her relationship with the minister. Pearl often shows a disturbing insight concerning the minister, more than once, expressing a desire to stand with Hester and Pearl in public and associating Hester’s scarlet letter with his habit of keeping his hand over his heart. Just as the impious Chillingworth is not blinded by the façade of piety that Dimmesdale pulls over his words so is the semi-socialized Pearl who is not yet fluent enough in social conventions to be distracted by the minister’s publicly accepted veil. (Pimple 271) “She is like the child who can see through the emperor, Dimmesdale, has no clothes, as, perhaps, are the other Puritan children who Dimmesdale fears.” (Pimple 271) For the seven years that has passed since the first scaffold scene, Dimmesdale’s primary concern has been maintaining his face as briefly described in the paragraph before. The minister has become so weak and worn out that it has become nearly impossible for him to maintain his false public face before his entire congregation. However, in the forest, he decides to circumscribe his audience. He adjusts his society making it a society of two—Hester and himself. In the forest he manages to maintain his face by manipulating Hester to talk him into fleeing. He demonstrates the sinner he thinks he is but manages to convince himself that he is indeed only weak and therefore the reason as to why he fell to Hester’s “seduction.” Up to before the forest, he had used his speaking ability to maintain the status quo of a minister, to disguise his sin, and narrowly escape punishment. But in the forest his powers of persuasion have allowed him to create a new future for himself; to release himself from the bonds created by his equal fault in the wrongful conception of Pearl.  ?This proceeds to change when he preaches his final sermon, the Election Sermon. He makes a more public acceptance of his status as a sinner and decides at last to do something other than continue in his suffering. He has decided, in effect, to confess unambiguously to the people of Boston that he has something to hide, and only the most priest-ridden among them would be unable to discern the nature of that something when the minister, Hester, and Pearl all disappear on the same day. His transformation and final confession do not mark a profound metamorphosis, a metanoia, for him but only slight variations on the same consistent theme of semantics and pragmatics he has played with since Hester’s punishment. (Pimple 266) Dimmesdale stands on the scaffold of shame on Election Day and demands that all should look upon “the one sinner in the world! At last!—At last!—I stand upon the spot here, seven years since, I should have stood.” (Hawthorne 337) He then tears away his shirt to reveal something to the community; it was the result of Dimmesdale’s self-flagellations, the effects of Chillingworth’s evil potions, or the seemingly supernatural transference of consensual guilt onto the minister’s fleshly body. His message draws the attention of the community to Hester’s scarlet letter, and says that “with all its mysterious horror, it is but the shadow of what that one sinner bears on his breast. (Hawthorne 339) Pearl kisses Dimmesdale’s cheek after his confession, not necessarily as an acknowledgement of paternity, but perhaps as a reward for a victory greater than the mere acknowledgment of personal sin; the acceptance of their “forbidden family” and sin. “A spell was broken.”(Hawthorne 339) The overall meaning of the minister’s final sermon pivots between personal guilt and community accusation. These two characteristics that come from the sermon display not only just a characteristic of Dimmesdale, personal guilt, but also an opinion that Hawthorne has for the Puritans.?Dimmesdale’s character shares striking similarities as to another work set in the same era, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Arthur Dimmesdale and John Proctor, of The Crucible, share much in common. They are the principle sufferers and the final emphasis of each work falls on them. Both Proctor and Dimmesdale are guilty of adultery, a fact that remains hidden from the community for some time. The situation and plight of Dimmesdale is at least parallel to that of Proctor. He, too, would like to remain uninvolved, and thus not answer his own demand at the first scaffold scene when he asks Hester to name her partner in sin when in reality he was asking her to reveal his partnership. Dimmesdale, like Proctor, gains the strength (although it took seven years)to face the consequences and the community honestly. He confesses himself to the crowd and acknowledges his guilt, and like his parallel, is triumphant in the face of death. Both men ascend to the fatal scaffold and acknowledge that there is some good left in them morally. This comparison between the characters shows how the characters of this time era are used to portray characteristics of guilt, redemption, exposure, and death (real or moral) to which both men display in each story. These characteristics are widely accepted by any story containing Puritans and are used to demonstrate a moral lesson.?Hawthorne makes Dimmesdale a scapegoat, and, with the help of persecutory kinsmen (Pearl) who haunt him, discharges the disturbing symbol onto the minister. (Ruetenik 74) He begins morally pure falls, and proceeds to find redemption and rises to be triumphant. As for Dimmesdale and his parallel character Proctor, both men become caught in the consequences of their adultery ad seek to avoid being involved with the community but can find no escape from the public. They rise when the community fails to surpass the clouded manipulated judgement that became truth when both scaffold scenes were presented. Hawthorne and Miller, alike, both believe man should undergo the “crucible” experience by which some men are refined and other consumed demonstrated by the character of Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale