The Scarlet Letter

What is ironic about hawthorne's portrayal of the Puritan society, in terms of this developing theme?

Chapter 11

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The irony in this chapter can be found in the fact that Dimmesdale can't confess his sin to his own congregation because they simply don't get it. No matter how hard he tries to rid himself of the burden of guilt, they just can't come to grips and understand what he's saying.


"Dimmesdale complements his emotional masochism with physical masochism. He fasts, flagellates himself, and keeps waking vigils so that he deprives himself of sleep, all in the hopes of banishing sin from his heart. Indeed, he still believes that he has done wrong, even when his feelings have not abated, and we sense that he cannot take public claim for Pearl's birth not only because he is afraid of the town's reaction, but also because he believes he can somehow atone for the sin enough to allow him to stay silent.

That said, Dimmesdale tries several times to confess to his congregation, but each time he even suggests his own fallibility, his followers fail to grasp the significance of his confession. Dimmesdale will come to open confession, it seems, only of his own accord. It will not be found out or dragged out of him, no matter how much Chillingworth or the spawn of “The Black Man” try to suck out his soul. Dimmesdale will have to wear his own scarlet letter and reveal it to his masses, taking responsibility for his sin and its consequences."