In confronted with a number of circumstances, both

In Nathaniel Hawthorn’s torrid tale of The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale, a main character, is confronted with a number of circumstances, both in and out of his control, that lead to his ultimate demise.Dimmsedale is a weak cowardly man. Arthur Dimmesdale, a minister, lives his life under the watchful yet admiring eye of the townspeople of Boston and, as a result, becomes a slave to the public opinion.His sin against Hester and Pearl is that he will not acknowledge them as his wife and daughter in the daylight.He keeps his dreadful secret from all those under his care in the church for seven years for fear that he will lose their love and they will not forgive him.He is too weak to admit his sins openly and in their entirety. Instead, he allows his parishioners to lift him in their esteem by confessing, in all humility, that he is a sinner: "The minister well knew–subtle but remorseful hypocrite that he was! –The light in which his vague confession would be viewed.

"They love him all the more for his honest and humble character, and this is Arthur's intent.Even as he plans to run away with Hester four days after their meeting in the forest, he comforts himself with the knowledge that he will give his sermon on predestination on the third day, and thus will leave his community with fond memories of his final exhortation.Arthur's flaw can be found in the fact that he chooses to value the public view above those of Hester, his love, and God, his master. Arthur, punishing himself for his ugly secret, which his need for public affirmation will not let him reveal, gradually kills himself through guilt and masochistic practices.In Mr. Dimmesdale's secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge.Oftentimes, this Protestant and Puritan divine had plied it on his own shoulders; laughing bitterly at himself all the while.

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It was his custom to rigorously until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance.He kept vigils, likewise, night after night, and sometimes in utter darkness; sometimes with a glimmering lamp; and sometimes, viewing his own face in a looking glass, by the most powerful light which he could throw upon it.He tortured himself, but could not purify, himself.Arthur allows his guilt and self-hatred to destroy his heart and soul, but he still refuses to confess and repent publicly his great transgression.Instead, he is often seen with his hand covering his heart, looking pained and repentant.Arthur allows himself to think the worst of himself, and does not guard his heart against the evil of Roger Chillingworth, which he senses, but chooses not to detect and eliminate.He confesses openly that he sinned, but he doesn't confess that he has, for all these years, been oppressed by his need for acceptance.He instead accepts Hester and Pearl, a positive though final step.

Arthur recognizes that he should have put aside his desire for public worship when he says: "‘People of New England!–ye, that have loved me!–ye, that have deemed me holy!–behold me here, the one sinner of the world!At last!–at last!–I stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood; here, with this woman, whose arm, more than the little strength where with I have crept thitherward, sustains me, at this dreadful moment, from groveling down upon my face!”He cannot entirely escape his desire to have the people look well upon him.Arthur dies in the heroine's arms, publicly and somewhat triumphantly, having gotten things off his scarred chest. His cathartic confession is not followed by a lifetime of public shame as that which Hester has endured but rather peace in heaven.It seems that Arthur has the benefit of the confession and recognition without the painful aftermath, and because his confession comes so close to his time of death, he is remembered as the sweet man he was before his death and not as shamefully as he could have been.

Arthur must have been a weak, dependent man before he ever entangled his life with Hester's.Such weakness is not born overnight, but instead is usually drawn out after trials and tribulations like Arthur's.Instead of overcoming his weakness, Arthur lives as a sinner, allowing Hester to be the strong and moral one for them both.Even in death, she is the supporting one, he the weak one.Even as Hawthorne describes him, Arthur is childlike and ill-suited to his environment: "Notwithstanding his high gifts and scholar-like attainments, there was an air about this young minister,–an apprehensive, a startled, a half-frightened look–as of a being who felt himself quite astray and at a loss in the pathway of human existence, and could only be at ease in some seclusion of his own." This is hardly the epitaph of a man of strength and integrity, but rather a brief description of an endless list of insecurities.

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