The Scarlet Letter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter book cover
Start Your Free Trial

"No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true." How does this quote relate to Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,336 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

This quote, which appears late in the novel, applies directly to Dimmesdale himself. Dimmesdale is pleased that the ship that is to take him away with Hester will leave after he delivers his Election Sermon. By giving the sermon, he feels he will keep the goodwill of his congregation. He is happy to think that they will consider him a man who did his duty. As the narrator notes, this idea indicates that Dimmesdale has lost his moral compass. He has not in any real way done his duty by his congregation: if he truly cared about being a model of good behavior, he would have long ago confessed himself as Hester's lover and Pearl's father. As the narrator notes, however, when you begin to live a lie, maintaining that lie becomes more important than the truth. One becomes, as the narrator says, "bewildered" as to what is true. The narrator is putting down Dimmesdale for his moral weakness in scathing terms because Dimmesdale cares more about appearing good than actually being good.

Chillingworth also...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 611 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write7,363 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial