In The Scarlet Letter, what explanation for the events of Election Day is made by the ministers friends to make him seem blameless?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 24 brings the conclusion to the stories of Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth through the voices of the villagers who witnessed in Election Day the revelation of the scarlet letter on the chest of Reverend Dimmesdale.

Dimmesdale's flock was always charmed by him. They always had a soft spot for this young, handsome, educated, and seemingly sophisticated man who brought such a breath of fresh air to an otherwise backwards town. This is the reason why, even after he confesses at the scaffold that he is the father of Pearl, and the man with whom Hester Prynne "sinned", he received no punishment, blame, nor questioning from the parishioners.

Hence, the excuses, fantasies, and myths that begin to surround Dimmesdale's confession. The first thing was to deny that there was a letter "A" on his chest; it was to be now stigmata caused by the dark forces of Chillingworth, now deemed as a "necromancer".

Others thought that

that the awful symbol was the effect of the ever active tooth of remorse, gnawing from the inmost heart outwardly, and at last manifesting Heaven's dreadful judgment by the visible presence of the letter.

meaning that there were some who did see a potential of guilt in Dimmesdale, and who wondered more than they led to believe.

Another sector felt that Dimmesdale had just begun a "course of penance" over the sin to which Hester shamelessly exposed the villagers.

Those villagers who were really blind to reality would contend that Dimmesdale was a sort of sacrificial lamb who sacrificed himself in a sort of Messianic way for the sins of the village..

in order to impress on his admirers the mighty and mournful lesson, that, in the view of Infinite Purity, we are sinners all alike.

In not so many words, many of the villagers completely bypassed the obvious in favor of creating a mythological sainthood out of a man who could have not been more clear to them when he said that he was the cause of Hester's shame, and that he was a sinner. For this reason Dimmesdale still preserved the dignity and respect that the others denied to Hester. This is a clear dig at the fanaticism of people who are too blind to accept the reality of things, or that are too ignorant to understand human nature.

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The Scarlet Letter

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