English Honors 11-4
06 October 2014
When man believes a delusion long enough, it soon will replace reality. The novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of a young woman, Hester Prynne, and a young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who must deal with the shame of their adultery. Hester's scarlet letter A publicly disgraces her every day, whereas Arthur's sin is hidden from everyone in colonial Boston. Hawthorne shows through Arthur Dimmesdale that when man refuses to accept moral responsibility for his actions he lives in self-deception.
Dimmesdale cannot let go of his pride and chooses to live in a lie instead. Arthur knows that God's calling for him is to the church. Dimmesdale thinks that his calling to the ministry justifies himself from telling the truth. Dimmesdale feels he has a responsibility to his congregation and God, and Dimmesdale could not fulfil his duty if he confessed.
When Robert Chillingworth, Hester's husband, lives with Dimmesdale they talk one day on the subject of misleading oneself and Chillingworth says to Dimmesdale, "These men deceive themselves, they fear to take up the shame that rightfully belongs to them. Their love for man, their zeal for God's service. These holy impulses may or may not coexist in their hearts with the evil inmates to which their guilt has unbarred the door" (110). Dimmesdale is afraid of what might happen if he speaks up. The fear of losing his job and failing God scares him, and makes him a coward. Arthur wants to be a minister and maintain his reputation and followers so much that pride blinds him from seeing what the right choice is. However, Dimmesdale cannot both be a minister and live in the sin of adultery;...