Dimmsdale's Fate

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

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Dimmsdale's Fate Throughout the Scarlet Letter, Reverend Mr. Arthur Dimmsdale undergoes gradual almost non-perceivable changes up until the climax of the novel. As a result of his sin he changes from the holy minister to a secret sinner and he finally becomes a repenting dead man.

Dimmsdale's sinful acts with Hester corroded his once pure conscience, as his soul is slowly ripped apart with guilt. To make matters worse his socially determined identity as the holy, almost divine minister further aggravates his mind. As a result of his conflicting lifestyles of secret lover and holy minister, he under goes both physical and mental transformations.

Dimmsdale feels pangs of guilt due to the fact that Hester bore all of the townspeople's scorn and contempt and also because he makes the choice not to come forward and reveal himself as the other sinner right away. Both of these start the process of Dimmsdale's slow death.

When Chillingworth shows up and begins to suck out Dimmsdale's "marrow" from deep within, Dimmsdale's morphing becomes more evident. He grows weaker and sicker and his physical deterioration is clear. Combined with Dimmsdale's own suffering and the addition of Chillingworth's revenge, Dimmsdale is changed from a once vibrant, young preacher, to a sickly and secretive dying man.

Dimmsdale's change is brought on by the nature of his sin and how he concealed it from the world. In the end his heart could not take the stress anymore and after he released his secret and freed his heart of the terrific burden that had been resting upon it for so long, it gave out and Reverend Dimmsdale ceased to be.