Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" Character Analysis of Arthur Dimmesdale

Essay by Crystal2College, UndergraduateA+, February 1997

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, provides us with intricate characters to analyze and evaluate. Hawthorne carefully constructs his characters, giving them each different emotions, values, physical attributes, and thus creating different souls. One sees character development throughout the book, until at the end, one is left with an image of a seemingly 'real' person. One of Hawthorne's carefully constructed characters is, Arthur Dimmesdale. With Arthur, one sees how sin changes him dramatically, causing in him moral conflicts. Dimmesdale is continually trying to see who he is.

        In the beginning of Hawthorne's novel, we are introduced to Hester Prynne, who has been condemned for adultery. Through this sin, she has a child named Pearl. The bigger controversy though, is who is Hester's 'partner in crime.' But for seven years, Hester does not reveal it to anyone, not even her husband, Roger Prynne, who comes to town the day she is brought up on the scaffold.

Prynne is not happy about finding his wife convicted of being an adulteress. He feels that the other guilty party should be up on the scaffold with her. His deep want to find the guilty party, leads him to disguise his identity, and he becomes, Roger Chillingworth. Hester agrees to keep his secret. The novel takes us through the seven years that Hester keeps quiet. A reader of the novel finds out early that Arthur Dimmesdale is the man Hester is trying to protect.

        One notices, that even in the beginning, there is deep inner conflict affecting Dimmesdale. On the scaffold stands his parishioner, and his lover, Hester. She is publicly paying for her sin of adultery, and although she has the opportunity, she does not reveal Dimmesdale to the public. Dimmesdale is lost. He wants to confess, but he is scared. He is a clergyman.