AP English 3 – Per.6
October 31, 2012
American Romantic Motifs
Authors of American Romantic novels often give death to many of their characters as the consequence of their secret sin. However, mortality is merely an easy way out thus, arguing through the use of dark imagery, symbolism, and isolationism; That the worst effect of wrongdoing is not death but instead living with the mental and physical anguish of guilt. Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the torment of Reverend Dimmesdale, a character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, with such dark imagery to portray the guilt and suffering of his secret sin, being Hester’s illicit lover and father of Pearl, is much worse than his actual death in the end of the book. Through the novel Dimmesdale, a well-respected minister of the town, debates on whether to tell society that he is the father and lover of Hester or keep quiet and live with the mental and physical misery. Hawthorne depicts Dimmesdale's face saying, “A writhing horror twisted itself across his features, like a snake gliding swiftly over them,” (58). By describing his face with such vivid detail, it gives the reader a mental image of just how much this sin affects him. Hawthorne also uses a simile comparing how the writhing horror twisted itself around his face to a snake gliding to emphasize the treacherous conditions guilt has shown upon Dimmesdale. Hawthorne not only shows how Dimmesdale is physically affected by the guilt, but is mentally in pain as well. “Mr. Dimmesdale was so overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain.”(173) Here Hawthorne shows that the guilt is almost unbearable. The metaphor he presents comparing the horror of the mind that Dimmesdale was overcome with, with the...
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