What effect does Reverend Dimmesdale's guilt have upon his popularity in the colony?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This proposed question is a very interesting one indeed. Reverend Dimmesdale's guilt does not directly affect his popularity, but it does make the reader question whether or not he should remain in office. Being a young man, Dimmesdale is most likely under scrutiny by the older generation. As the times begin to change toward more leniency towards certain once thought crimes, Dimmesdale still takes his vows of reverend seriously, and thus his "crime" begins to way heavy upon him. Throughout the story, Dimmesdale is constantly facing an internal battle over the decision of whether or not to admit his part in the sin of Hester Prynne. Dimmesdale is left with two choices; one choice leaves him tortured by his own mind; the other will result in being disgraced to the entire community. His reputation with the town is one of perfection. No matter what error he makes, the people still consider him the ideal example of a flawless life. By keeping this secret, Dimmesdale becomes rather emotional in his preaching and is able to sympathize with his sinful congregation.

Whenever he preaches, the people listen intently and follow every bit of advice Dimmesdale gives. Clearly, it would appear that Dimmesdale would be most happy by keeping quiet about all that has happened and go on with his life. We are given the description of him at his Election Sermon, despite his peculiar behavior recently, as “an epoch of life more brilliant and full of triumph than any previous one, or than any which could hereafter be.”(223)

Popularity is regarded highly in many people’s minds. Dimmesdale is possibly the most popular and well-liked man in the whole community.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial