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Should Roger Dimmesdale have confessed

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Should Roger Dimmesdale have confessed

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  • March 24, 2009
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Dimmesdale EssayIn a morally sound society guilt is an inevitability. Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter" is no exception. Puritans adhere to strict morel guidelines all of which are laid down by the bible; a pillar of this belief, among other things is that a woman who is married shall not sleep with anyone but her husband. In the course of time before the book begins Arthur Dimmesdale, a Puritan minister, sleeps with a married woman, Hester Prynn. As a result, Hester is shunned from society and publicly humiliated on a daily basis. Dimmesdale, in direct contrast, has the fortune of escaping punishment due the fact that his "sin" goes undiscovered. He now faces a dilemma, confess and not be allowed to remain in the clergy, hurt Hester and not ever be allowed back to his home, or remain silent and live with crippling guilt. In a different world, confessing would be a great abatement of his pain, however, Hester's presence as well as his status in the community impedes his willingness to be truthful.

Hester is now confined to the outskirts to society as a result of her sin. While she makes daily trips into the town to conduct business and to be shamed she has no time to devote to Dimmesdale. Not surprisingly Hester cares for Dimmesdale and does not want to see him hurt in any way. She knows what the punishment is for what he has done, she is living it, and wants to spare Dimmesdale form that fate. Dimmesdale has been told by Hester not to confess. As a consequence Dimmesdale remains conflicted.

Hester's punishment is not uncharacteristic of Puritan society. One could then speculate that Dimmesdale's punishment would be equally devastating. Upon confessing, he will most likely be expelled from the clergy and forced out of the community. Granted, he is punishing himself, no doubt his self castigation will undoubtedly increase in the wake of public shame and being ousted from the community that he preaches to so avidly to. His sermons give him a...