Dimmesdale: The Bearer of the Scarlet letter
Who should bear the stigma of sin? Hawthorne’s novel is a story of adultery, social judgment, and moral redemption. Hester cannot hide the consequences of her mistake, so she is exposed to public judgment and forced to wear the scarlet letter. However, it is Dimmesdale’s guilty conscience and struggle to rise above the sin that makes the essence of the narrative. The argument for Dimmesdale as a protagonist lies in the answers to the following questions. Does Dimmesdale’s character change throughout the story? Does he have an antagonist and a helper? Do his actions bring about the climax of the story? Finally, does he solve the problem?
Hawthorne uses character development to show how a person can change. A well-developed character stirs emotions in the reader to make a powerful story. All three main characters, Hester, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale undergo changes that mark the development of events. However, it is Dimmesdale who changes the most. The reason for his change is the sin he commits with Hester. At the beginning of the book, we meet a young and self-confident minister who is trusted by the townspeople, as their moral and religious leader, “So powerful seemed the minister’s appeal…” (74). As the story progresses we see Dimmesdale become weaker physically, due to his moral torment “, who’s health had severly suffered” (119). In Chapter 8, we see him through Hester’s eyes, as a man who
“Looked now more careworn and emanciated than as we described him at the scene of Hester’s public ignominy: and wether it were his failing health, or whatever the cause might be, his large dark eyes had a world of pain in their troubled and melancholy depth” (124).
For a large part of the novel Dimmesdale becomes both, very sick physically and mentally, as a result of Chillingworth’s “friendly care”. Chillingworth, Hester’s wronged husband pretends to be his friend, but he actually plays an evil game with...