Posted at 11.16.2018
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Notice, the main characters struggle to overcome sin, guilt, and public humiliation in Puritan New Great britain society. In the very beginning of the novel, Hester Prynne is led to the scaffold to serve her punishment for committing adultery, a crime in Puritan culture. In addition to sitting on the scaffold to be publicly condemned, Hester also must wear a scarlet notice "A" to symbolize her sin of adultery. The townspeople, including Hester's estranged husband Roger Chillingworth, seek to disclose the personal information of Hester's lover and the daddy of her illegitimate child, Pearl. Hester won't publicly say that Pearl's daddy is Arthur Dimmesdale, the town minister; because she believes she is protecting him from humiliation. However, Dimmesdale's guilt causes him internal turmoil and contributes to his physical pain. At the end of the book, Dimmesdale finally uncovers his guilt when Hester and Pearl join him on the scaffold, and he publicly confesses his sin. After alleviating his conscience, he dies in his feeble talk about. Hawthorne shows through Dimmesdale that the guilt of sin without repentance can burden one physically, mentally, and psychologically.
Hawthorne illustrates that individuals can lose control of their physical wellbeing if defeat with guilt. When Dimmesdale is called to the governor's mansion to go over the fate of Hester's illegitimate child, Pearl, he activities physical pain caused by his guilt. While arguing about the guardianship of Pearl, Dimmsdale sometimes appears as "pale, and having his give his center" (Hawthorne 125). Pearl, the symbol of Dimmesdale's sin, triggers him to clutch his heart in agony because he's overcome with pity which causes his physical suffering. He perceives his sin as a lack of devotion to God, and he recognizes the hypocrisy of committing adultery because he is a minister. However, he refuses to confess his guilt because he worries the shame and consequences for his actions; and for that reason, he can never reduce his guilt release a his pain. Although Dimmesdale refuses to acknowledge his sin, he still looks for forms of penance. He will try to reduce his guilt by whipping himself regularly with "a bloody scourge" (Hawthorne 160), but only causes himself additional physical pain. His marks from affliction neglect to dissolve his inner turmoil, as he is constantly on the undergo. Eventually Dimmesdale's remorse drives him to ascend the scaffold to acknowledge his sin publicly. To ascend there, he battles "his physical weakness" (Hawthorne 280) to finally declare he is guilty of adultery. This previous vestige of physical power demonstrates that confessing his sin helps him to battle his weakness. He no more feels literally burdened by the guilt of his sins after truly receiving penance.
Hawthorne demonstrates that one's mentality can be damaged by guilt. When Dimmesdale ascends the scaffold in the middle of the night with the purpose of confessing his sins, he shows signals of a poor mental state. Upon the scaffold, Dimmesdale begins to lose his brain, and without any "capacity to restrain himself" (Hawthorne 163), he shrieks aloud. Dimmesdale, suffering from guilt because of his earlier indiscretions, manages to lose control scheduled to his unstable mind plagued with guilt. With out a clear conscience, he demonstrates his mental health suffers. In addition to this signal of mental disarray, he also portrays a sign of his instability when he perceives Reverend Wilson while on the scaffold. Dimmesdale can "hardly restrain himself from speaking to him" (Hawthorne 166), and his state of mind allows him to assume that he foretells the minister. However, Dimmesdale later realizes he hasn't uttered a expression, yet his guilt has triggered him to believe he has spoken. The guilt of his sins clouds his brain and makes him not capable of distinguishing his creativeness from truth. In the ultimate scaffold scene, Dimmesdale reveals a well balanced mentality after he admits his sins. He bravely ascends the scaffold and admits his sins to the public. Along with his secrets discovered, he changes to Pearl and it "seems he would be sportive with the kid" (Hawthorne 282). Before his burden is relieved, Dimmesdale neglects his child with the fear of exposing his secret, but now he comes to terms with actuality because his mentality is not suffering from the guilt of sin. The distress of his stressed brain is relinquished as his guilt is relieved, and he realizes he must acknowledge and support his princess Pearl.
Hawthorne illustrates the powerful ramifications of guilt on one's emotions. During the appointment at the governor's house to decide who will acquire custody of Pearl, Dimmesdale uncovers the emotional effects of his guilt. On the meeting, he is seen with his large dark eyes "in their troubled and melancholy depth" (Hawthorne 125). He is expressing that his remorse for the troubles he has caused Hester has begun to have a hold of him. Dimmesdale feels regretful for his sin, and he has produced an emotional connection to Hester and Pearl caused by his guilt. After Chillingworth goes in with Dimmesdale to treat him, Dimmesdale uncovers the emotional effects of a stressed conscience. Chillingworth commences questioning Dimmesdale, battling to expose his sin of enthusiasm with Hester. Dimmesdale refuses to acknowledge his sins, yet he breaks into an "unseemly outbreak of temper" (Hawthorne 151). Through his response, Dimmesdale illustrates that his guilt is triggering him to reduce control of his feelings at the reference to his sin. Having a clear conscience, Dimmesdale would be able to restrain an psychological outbreak, yet his emotions are plagued by guilt. During one of Dimmesdale's walks in the forest, he coincidentally encounters Hester. As they approach each other, they are really "coldly shuddering in common dread" (Hawthorne 210). They are both reminded of their own sin and the ensuing guilt causes these to be conquer with the feelings of grief and sorrow. Hester still bears the scarlet letter, which for Dimmesdale is a "image of his sinful character and complicity" (Burt 190). Dimmesdale is further reminded of his guilt, stirring up uncontrollable feelings of unhappiness and regret.
During the final scaffold arena, Dimmesdale finally relieves his guilt and unbearable sorrow for his sins. He triumphantly ascends the city scaffold, and he is joined by Hester and his girl Pearl. Dimmesdale proclaims that he has determined adultery, and he reveals a make on his breasts, possibly an "A" carved into his body, which shocks his committed congregation. Dimmesdale is no more ravaged by the mind-boggling effects of his guilt, and he dies with an obvious conscience. Hawthorne discloses that guilt without atonement can significantly impair a person physically, mentally, and emotionally.