Diary Entries: Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale
May 24, 1642
As she stood on the scaffold, my eyes were wont to scrutinize her from head to toe; the impressiveness, the sheer beauty of her features gleamed under the midday sun. But alas, there on her bosom the scarlet letter lay, reminding me of our adulterous affair. Oh how it pained me to stand there with her! My legs trembled weakly and I felt my breath quicken – if only she would look at my way! I had desired with all my heart to throw myself betwixt her and the crowd of people standing before us, and declare my part in the heinous crime.
Being distraught with cowardice and shame, I could not muster the courage needed to free myself from my agony – thus, the burden of my crime shall eternally fester in the deepest reaches of my heart – and remain there for as long as the scarlet letter continues to exist.
There is perhaps no man on earth as unholy and deserving of punishment as I am. Reverend, Father, pastor; all these names I detest with a vengeance. I am not apt to fulfill the role of a clergyman when I myself have committed offences against the church. My heart desires to expose me to the public for the fraud that I am, yet, my mouth won’t allow for it. The earthly punishments that befall Hester Prynne are nothing compared to mine, which are dealt by the Heavens to my very soul. I would rather be flogged a thousand times with the whip than to endure the heart break and sufferance that inevitably lies ahead.
July 5, 1645
Was it fortune or mischance that brought the mother and child back to me? I was strolling with the good Governor Bellingham in his garden when a streak of scarlet flashed before my eyes. Methought it had been a trick of the mind, but then she appeared - Pearl, the child of Hester, garbed in a crimson velvet tunic. The infant, flighty with play and showing off her mischievous spirit, seemed more fitted to be a forest nymph than a child of human origins. Her mother, who still carried the burden of the scarlet letter on her bosom, observed her child playing from afar.
As we neared the child and her mother, my heart was simultaneously stricken with a familiar pang of pain and lifted with a perverse sense of joy – perverse, because I felt myself unworthy to feel such emotions. In the two years passed since Hester Prynne was taken to the public scaffold, I hath punished myself, and deprived myself of happiness. Not a day goes by without me thinking: wherefore did I choose to commit so great a sin, as to send myself to a premature and earthly purgatory? Indeed, I have much envy for the man who is able walk freely under the heavenly sky, without guilt in his heart and pain in his strides!
When the impish child ran up to me and seized my hand in her own, I felt an urge to draw back, to flee from the scene – her comportment was too reminiscent of the scarlet letter. Everything about that child; her red dress, her passionate spirit, and her untamed wildness, were reminders of that single night of passion, of lust, that now spurs my eternal grievance. Alas, when she placed her delicate cheek on the palm of my hand, I felt inclined to give her forehead a tender kiss. Strangely, as if by some attractive force, the child seemed drawn to me.
October 23, 1646
The pain in my chest hath not subsided. Instead, it seems to grow stronger with each passing day. My kindly neighbours have taken it upon themselves to acquaint me with a knowledgeable physician. On their recommendations, Roger Chillingworth came by my dwellings today to perform a diagnosis of my illness. Though he may be a close friend of mine, and a physician who is well known for intellect, I could not bear to impede upon him the treatment of my illness. I solemnly declined his offer, for I knew myself to be a better physician than he in the matters of my own heart – after all, no medicine or draught would be able to rid a man of his cultivated guilt.