Honors English 10
26 September 2011
Mysterious Death of Dimmesdale
One could say that Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale is poisoned, or that he merely died of guilty conscience. In the Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Dimmesdale commits adultery with Hester Prynne, and so she bears a child. Dimmesdale does not admit his sin to the people in the community. Keeping the sin a secret for as long as he does creates guilt and suffering which manifests in him until his death. Chillingworth is Hester’s husband who is symbolic of a leech because he lives off of Dimmesdale for a “host” making Dimmesdale’s life miserable in order to retaliate. Dr. Kahn suggests that Chillingworth poisoned Dimmesdale over a long period of time; there were references to Deadly Nightshade, and shows symptoms of the use of Atropine. Atropine is a drug that comes from a plant called Deadly Nightshade, or Belladonna (Fair-weather). Poisonous plants and symptoms are arguable reasons for Dimmesdale’s death by Dr. Kahn. However, Dr. Kahn’s theory that Dimmesdale is poisoned by atropine is false, and Dimmesdale’s death is caused by a prolonged depression brought on by guilt.
Dr. Kahn suggests that Reverend Dimmesdale’s death is because Chillingworth has been poisoning him with Atropine in small amounts for a very long time. “Dimmesdale’s symptoms developed over a prolonged period, indicating that they are probably the result of chronic poisoning” (Kahn). Although Dr. Kahn argues that Chillingworth poisons Dimmesdale with atropine, and or deadly herbs, there is not enough evidence to prove this idea true. “You wrong yourself in this…you have deeply and sorely repented” (Hawthorne 173). Hester is telling Dimmesdale that he has been punishing himself for his sin even though it has long past. The sin and guilt that has been festering in Dimmesdale is too much for him to handle. “Continual presence of Roger Chillingworth, — the secret poison of malignity,...