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In The Scarlet Letter is there evidence to support that Rev. Dimmesdale is torn...

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fortee40 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:31 PM via web

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In The Scarlet Letter is there evidence to support that Rev. Dimmesdale is torn between his desire to confess his sins and his need to save the faith of the community by hiding it from them?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted January 13, 2013 at 8:32 PM (Answer #1)

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The main bit of evidence to support this is quite simply, Dimmesdale's ever-failing health and finally his death at the close of the novel. He is racked throughout by mental and spiritual anguish, everyone comments upon his ill-health, and that is why he takes on a personal physician, Roger Chillingworth, although Chillingworth turns out to be his enemy, the husband of his lover Hester. But even Chillingworth does not torment him as much as he torments himself. His trouble is that he is not able to come to any clear resolutions, quite unlike Hester who is much the stronger and independent-minded of the two. He is neither able to renounce Hester nor give up his duties as minister. He is caught in a terrible dilemma. He could have made public his affair with Hester early on, if he were really able to give up everything else for her, but he is not.He lives in constant mental turmoil and this wears him down physically. At the end he does finally come clean about his affair and acknowledges his daughter, but the effort literally kills him.

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