The Scarlet Letter

The Presentation of Dimmesdale in "The Scarlet Letter" 11th Grade

In the novel The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne establishes a duality between piety and sin that manifests itself in the character of Arthur Dimmesdale. Throughout the plot, Dimmesdale is presented as a faithful and religious minister. Hawthorne primarily portrays this by detailing the power of Dimmesdale’s sermons and the effects that they have on his congregation. Additionally, Dimmesdale is depicted as a person of decaying emotional stability, who digresses into a nervous collapse as the story progresses. He becomes physically frail, and displays his internal turmoil by auspiciously placing his hand over his heart. Hawthorne further establishes Dimmesdale’s character through the lens of hypocrisy, especially through the questions that his illegitimate daughter Pearl presents. Hawthorne uses both direct and indirect characterization to present the character of Dimmesdale as pious, increasingly nervous, and hypocritical.

When Dimmesdale is first introduced to the reader, he is shown as a faithful minister who is fulfilling his religious duties while questioning Hester about the paternity of her child. Hawthorne establishes Dimmesdale as a deeply religious pillar of the community, whose “eloquence and...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 944 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7602 literature essays, 2153 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in