Man vs himself

A great deal of blood has been shed and many wars have been fought during the history of
greatest battle and most formidable enemy is only himself. This has been made only more evident
time and the development of the human character. However, one factor that has remained constant
character through this development is conscience. Conscience can be mans saving grace or his
presence may simultaneously purify and mar. As contradictory as this may sound, it has been
Nathaniel Hawthorne who chronicles one mans battle against himself in The Scarlet Letter. In
Arthur Dimmesdale struggles to pacify his conscience and withhold the secret of his sin from
conscience continues to consume all that is his very essence, Arthur Dimmesdale illustrates
sin-stained conscience and redemption only through truth. The novel begins to delve into the
Arthur Dimmesdale when Roger Chillingworth questions him about his thoughts on sinners and their
well the torment of his own secret, Arthur proclaims that those who hold such “miserable
last daywith a joy unutterable.” By this expression, Arthur offers a glimpse into his tortured
a burden his secret is. When Chillingworth further inquires about such sinful secrets, Arthur
motion that he carries out as “if afflicted with an importunate throb of pain.” Evidently Arthur
reader is presented with the thought that this gesture possibly is not done as much out of
suffering. Not only is the health of Arthurs body in question, but the condition of his heart,
supernatural light is later shed upon this question as Chillingworth uncovers the secret Arthur
visible to him as he pulls aside Arthurs ministerial robe: a scarlet letter A upon his chest.

aspect of the novel remain ambiguous, this engraving on Arthurs chest suggests that the burden
so deeply within him, it has now forced its way outside; it is at all his levels. At this point
begun, if it had not already succeeded, in consuming him. Arthurs conscience was now stained
soon become too much to bear. As the story continues within the next few years, Arthur begins
devolution and self-hatred. He despises the hypocrisy of such a vile scoundrel as himself
pulpit, yet can never bring himself to admit his corruption before his congregation. From this
he seeks freedom. He had striven to find forgiveness in admitting his guilt at the pulpit, but
shamed when the masses viewed his confessions as only more proof of his saintliness. His inner
other methods of penance: the scourge, fasting, and vigils. Arthur would whip his shoulders
the point of where his knees trembled, and sit in either the darkness, the light of a single
occasion of a night. On one such night, Arthur found temporary solace. The guilt of seven years
swiftly to the scaffold, the same scaffold Hester Prynne was publicly shamed years ago the
have been on. Climbing atop this structure and later being joined by Pearl and Hester, an
through his body and he was reawakened. However, he still refused to admit his crime in front of
returned to the trappings of society, he was greeted again by his familiar hypocrisy. These acts
purifying him, and only caused him to lapse further in his distortion of the world and its
reaches its climax, Arthur succeeds in winning back the spirit that he had lost years before,
congregation of his horrible crime. With his last steps, he ascends the scaffold and completes
should have completed seven years earlier: he accepts his sin, he accepts Hester, and he accepts
the world his humanity and in so doing, forgives himself and is himself forgiven. His conscience
been agonizing him before has purified him, and he is free to achieve the peace he was in search
his conscience and truth, as well as of the traits of the human character, lead to this and
against himself. In the novel, Arthur Dimmesdale proved to be an effective character in
conscience and redemption through truth. Through Arthurs change from merely feeling the pains
while being interviewed, to his attempts at relieving his pain through scourging, fasting, and
acceptance of the truth at the final scaffold scene, Nathaniel Hawthorne succeeds in showing
achieved through truth alone; complete atonement comes only with complete truth. This is
possibly will, through the truth, finally conquer themselves.
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