The Scarlet Letter: Physical Manifestation of Guilt

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The Scarlet Letter Essay
Throughout the Scarlet Letter there are many signs of guilt, shame and remorse for the sins people have committed. Most of the guilt is shown in a physical manifestation by reverend Dimmesdale. He is, in the end revealed to be the father of Pearl, and the other partner involved in adultery; though it is evident from the beginning that he is Pearls father by the symptoms of his sin. Very early on there is evidence to Dimmesdale’s guilt that points to him as a fellow adulterer.

Although Hester and Pearl are deeply affected by the sin, Dimmesdale is the one most affected by it. Early on he becomes very ill with guilt and shame. He thinks about it incessantly and even incorporates his feelings into his sermons so that others can share in his sin and inner torture. It is clear he is continuously thinking about his sin and contemplating his redemption. He basically begs Hester to confess for him, and tell the congregation his name and wrongdoing. It is these thoughts that take a toll on both his mental health and his physical.

Along with the burden of his sin on his mind, he also exhibits the burden on his body. “His form grew more emaciated; his voice, though still rich and sweet, had a certain melancholy prophesy of decay in it; he was often observed, on any sight alarm or sudden accident, to put his hand over his heart, with first a flush and then a paleness, indicative of pain”. Dimmesdale grew sicker and sicker by the day resulting from his guilt. It is this torture that made it obvious to the reader, as well as Chillingworth, that he was Pearl’s father. This is the reason that Chillingworth attended to Dimmesdale everyday till the day he died. Chillingworth was set on revenge and in turn saw the torture Dimmesdale underwent every day. He did not cure Dimmesdale, he merely watched him die slowly inside. The fact that Dimmesdale dies at the end of the story makes it clear that he was suffering far more than either Hester or...
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