Survive In The Puritan Society English Literature Essay


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Dimmesdale confines his sins and guilt in order to survive in the Puritan society. Dimmesdale conceals his guilt since he is too frightened of the harsh punishments he will have to face if his sins are revealed. The reader can see this when Dimmesdale is subconsciously driven to the scaffold and "while standing on the scaffold... Mr. Dimmesdale was overcome with a great horror of mind, as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart" (Hawthorne, 128). Dimmesdale is terrified of the fact that he, just like Hester, will have to stand on the scaffold in from the entire town as a form of his punishment. Terrified by the consequences of revealing his sin he shrieks aloud and horrifyingly says, "It is done... The whole town will awake and hurry forth, and find me here!" (Hawthorne, 128). He is scared that the townspeople will find him on the scaffold and he will be forced to confess his sins. Dimmesdale climbs the scaffold to compensate for his guilt, but his fear of Puritan punishment is far greater than his will to confess his sin. Another example of his fear of punishment resulting in him hiding his sins is when Dimmesdale and Hester meet each other in the forest. While in the forest Hester proposes an idea for Dimmesdale to run away from Massachusetts. Dimmesdale joyously responds to the idea by saying," Do I feel joy again? ... This is already a better life!"(Hawthorne, 172) Dimmesdale feels a sense of ''joy'' upon realizing that he will not have to confess his sins or worry about getting severely punished. This shows that Dimmesdale is frightened of the Puritan laws and by running away he will not have to decide "between fleeing as an avowed criminal, and remaining as a hypocrite" (Hawthorne, 171). For Dimmesdale running away Europe is a way of escaping the harsh punishments of the Puritan community. Another reason for why Dimmesdale hide his sins is to protect his reputation in the society. During Hester's time on the scaffold, Governor Bellingham orders Dimmesdale to confront Hester and get her to confess her lover's name, by saying," Good Master Dimmesdale...the responsibility of this woman's soul lies greatly with you. It behoves you, therefore, to exhort her to repentance and to confession" (Hawthorne 61). Such "directness of appeal" (Hawthorne 61) puts all the attention on Dimmesdale since he "had achieved a brilliant popularity in his sacred office" (Hawthorne, 122). He is pressured into carrying out a task he dislikes. Dimmesdale does not want to confront Hester but in order to maintain his reputation he hides his guilt through "a vast power of self restrain" (Hawthorne, 61). Thus, the severe laws and his reputation in the society cause Reverend Dimmesdale to hide his guilt and sins.

Another character affected by the Puritan ideals of the society is Roger Chillingworth. Chillingworth, just like Dimmesdale, cares alot about his reputation in the society. One can see this when Roger visits the prison to provide medication for Hester and Pearl. When Hester asks her why he created a fake name he replies by saying that, "I will not encounter that besmirches the husband of a faithless husband" (Hawthorne 69). Roger Chillingworth is a pseudonym, he adopts that name upon his arrival at Salem. Since, he addressed himself as a physician he earns a positive reputation due the lack of doctors visiting the town. He fears that if the townspeople find out that he is associated with Hester, they will consider him an outcast as well. So, in order to protect himself and his reputation he hides his true self. Another reason for Chillingworth create a false identity is to hide his sin of revenge and protect himself from the society's harsh punishments. During his visit to the prison, he expresses his idea of revenge to Hester by saying that, "Hester, the man lives who has wronged us both!" (Hawthorne, 67) Chillingworth pleased with the fact that Hester's lover is able to fool the authority and to escape his punishment. Chilling wants to "see him tremble… Not the less he shall be mine" (Hawthorne, 68) He wants to inflict pain on Hester's lover, but he realizes that his revenge is considered as the worst sin. So, he hides his sins in order to protect himself from facing the consequences of his crimes. Chillingworth isolates himself as a mean to hide his guilt and protect himself from the society. After Dimmesdale's death the narrator describes

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