The Cowardice of Arthur Dimmesdale

             The Cowardice of Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, behavior is centered around a rigid Puritan society that leads to great consequences in the lives of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Their act of adultery greatly effects their lives and its result greatly alters their presence in the community. Hester handles her situation with as much dignity and pride as possible while Dimmesdale, the minister, acts in a different and cowardly manner. Hester openly confesses her sin and bears the punishment, while Dimmesdale does not even contain the strength to confess and tolerate the results that could be thrust upon him. Arthur Dimmesdale’s inability to confess is strictly due to his fear of confrontation thus characterizing him as a coward. The fact that Dimmesdale does not publicly acknowledge or reveal his sin only contributes in denouncing himself as well as his courage. His lack of a confession solely results in the loss of power, self-esteem, and dignity. His great lack of inner strength is easily grasped due to the lies he preaches every week for seven painful years about truth and in the manner in which he avoids confrontation. He spreads the word of holiness and goodness, yet he himself does not abide these simple laws of the Puritan lifestyle. The minister can only extol Hester when she refuses to reveal him as the father by expressing “the wondrous strength and generosity of a woman’s heart!” (Hawthorne 69) rather than confess his own half of the sin. He can only praise a woman who has more strength and power than himself, for degrading her would be extremely hypocritical for a man in his position. For seven years, Dimmesdale withers in his own cowardice while wearing a mask of purity. By being the highly acclaimed preacher of his community, Dimmesdale feels it is his duty to represent the model of a good citizen. His high position only invests higher quantities of drea...

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The Cowardice of Arthur Dimmesdale. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:15, January 18, 2017, from