The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In The Scarlet Letter, at what point does Dimmesdale confess?

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Interestingly, while the title of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel places the focus upon the character of Hester Prynne, the examination of the consequences of sin centers more around the character of Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister who holds in his heart a formidable secret sin. Moreover, this sin remains hidden for most of Hawthorne's narrative.

Whereas Hester's sin is openly acknowledged, she can move forward with her life in acts of penitence and charity in order to attain some redemption from her sin. However, since the Reverend Dimmesdale's sin is cloistered, he must live a life of hypocrisy, a life which tortures him and destroys the very fabric of his being. In Chapter XII, the minister is so guilt-ridden that he stands on the scaffold, hoping that someone will come by to shame him and he can confess, but only Hester with Pearl

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