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Two-Faced People

By baybeehjay Feb 29, 2008 604 Words
Nathaniel Hawthorne, in the novel The Scarlet Letter, touches upon the nature of humanity to be motivated by rationalizing self-interest. Just as "no man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true" (189), humankind would rather believe they are someone who they are not, in order to emulate or fool others. It is not possible to demonstrate to be someone else publicly and on the inside exist as different person. Sometimes this disposition can deceive individuals and in turn deceive others. Ultimately, honesty always prevails, so principally people need to first live truthfully if they want others to truly believe and understand them.

The Scarlet Letter introduces this recurring theme through Reverend Dimmesdale the young scholarly minister, who immigrated to the small New England town as a theologian. Publicly, his congregation revered him as "a miracle of holiness [and] fancied him the mouth-piece of wisdom, and rebuke, and love" (124). However, he lived in agony calling himself "altogether vile, a viler companion of the vilest, the worst of sinners" (125). As a genuine devoted clergyman, he wanted to relish in the truth, thus "he longed to speak out from his own pulpit at the full height of his voice, and tell the people what he was" (172). This constant internalization of his guilt and self-punishment led to more deterioration in Dimmesdale's physical and spiritual condition. Until at last, he could not tolerate his inner conflict and decided to finally resolve it on Election Day. Ironically, instead of the town accepting Dimmesdale as "the one sinner of the world" (224), their idolization of him reached a new level. Once Dimmesdale finally admitted his awful sin to the community, he found peace and "a spell was broken" (226); the bewilderment of his soul now vanished.

In the 21st century, many elements of human nature, particularly this one, still hold true. If the reader thinks of today's political world in reference to The Scarlet Letter and Hawthorne's quote, popularity can replace the religious passion Dimmesdale had for his puritanical society. For example, in 2006 Gary Dodds portrayed himself as businessman and campaigned as experienced leader running as a Democratic 1st Congressional District representative. However, in reality he was gluttonous and wanted to become more popular for his campaign. These two personalities collided when he faked a car accident to raise his popularity for the election by gaining the public's attention. On February 20, 2008, the jury found him guilty of the felony falsifying evidence, and two misdemeanors: causing a false public alarm and leaving the scene of an accident. Many politicians pretend to be someone they are not to please their audience in hopes to win their vote; although, in reality they are dishonest people, whose real intentions are having power. Several times their actual objectives shine through their mask of deception and they become caught in lies, not knowing "as to which may be the [truth]" (189).

Human nature cannot live two different lives. Eventually the soul will dissociate and conclude in showing its true nature, whether they are good or poor qualities. It is important to remember through Dimmesdale's example that even if something seems to "eat into the real substance of [one's] character" (189), deceiving the rest of the world in the long run only hurts one's well-being and leaves them feeling at total unrest. Honesty is the only measure one can take that restores the damage done by lying and clarifies the bewilderment.

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