Muriel's Wedding


Dimmesdale?s Humble Mortality--Life is hard, but accepting that fact makes it easier. In this twisted story of deception and adultery set in the Puritan era, Hawthorne introduces Dimmesdale as a weak and cowardly man who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. By the end of the novel he has been transformed into a person who accepts his sins and the consequences, before it is too late; ultimately proving that love surpasses all boundaries, and that one can only be human. At the beginning of the novel, Dimmesdale has established quite a reputation for himself. In discussing individual members of the magistrate, the towns people describe Dimmesdale as a "God fearing" gentleman, "but merciful overmuch (49)." Due to his actions, all of the people respect and look up to the Reverend. Throughout the story, Dimmesdale desperately tries to confess his sin, by envying Hester, for her courage, and he states, "Happy are you Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! (188)." Even at the end of the novel, when finally attempting to confess, people are compelled by his final sermon, raving that "never had a man spoken in so wise, so high, and so holy a spirit, as he that spake this day (p.243)." These facts proved that he was a very loved and influential man in the small town. Hawthorne later portrays him as somewhat of a hypocrite. His outward appearance deceives the villagers, appearing to be a completely holy man. However, before the action of the novel begins, he falls into sin, by committing adultery with Hester Pryne. His cowardly outlook on his sins only causes his troubles to stack up. Abandoning Hester and her illegitimate daughter Pearl, also latched onto his problems, forcing Hester to go and find work around town, an obviously hard task for a single parent. He also abandons them emotionally and physically, and was rarely there when Hester and Pearl needed him. Innocent little Pearl wonders why Dimmesdale is so afraid of public displays of affection. On the contrary, when they are alone, he takes notice of Hester and Pearl. Pearl later asks him, "?Wilt thou stand here with Mother and me, tomorrow noontide?' (p.149)," the answer to which could not be understood by Pearl herself. If Dimmesdale were not such a highly reputable and religious man, then he would not care about his
crime. His morals and ethics however, cause him to inflict torment on himself, including long periods of fasting, and also spending seemingly infinite hours of staring at himself in the mirror. He could also be caught numerous times in his closet, whipping himself and burning the letter "A" on his chest. Sometimes he could be found at the scaffold in the wee hours of the morning, practicing how he was planning to confess the next day, all the while deluding himself into believing that his private punishment could adequately cure
his heartache. Similarly, there are also some things that go on that are out of
Dimmesdale's control. For example, bizarre thoughts and hallucinations begin to overtake him. Chillingsworth, his "trusted physician," just happens to be the long lost husband of his accessory in adultery. Hoping to exact some measure of revenge, Chillingsworth continually makes discussion about the wrongs of sinners, and tortures him, willingly, but unknowingly, with various medicines, and herbal mixtures. His outward and physical appearance also reflect his sorrow. To illustrate,"...his cheek was paler and thinner, and his voice more tremulous than before-when it had now become a constant habit....to press
his hand over his heart.. (118)." "He thus typified the constant introspection wherewith he tortured, but could not purify, himself (141)." This confirmed, once again, that no good came out of his self-inflicted punishment. Although he was privately repentant at home, he continued to carry out his ministerial duties while attempting to leave his sinful past behind him. Dimmesdale rationalized that if he was to open the burden locked away inside his heart, he would not be able to continue preaching and doing good deeds for the people. After seven long years of torment and agony, he and Hester finally make amends
and forgive each other fully, allowing them to spiritually, leave their sins behind and almost literally start anew. They decide that together they can overcome their miseries and could become a happy family. The heaviest grievance had now been