The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter has many characters that go through several changes during the story. For example, the young minister Dimmesdale, who commits the sin of adultery with Hester, greatly changes. He is the character that makes the most progress in the story. Dimmesdale, being a minister, acts as a role model to the townspeople. He is the last person who should commit a crime and lie about it, but in the end, he confesses to the town. The fact that he did confess illustrates his courage and morality.
Hester and Dimmesdales affair goes undiscovered until Hester is pregnant and has a child without having her husband present. As her punishment, Hester is forced to stand on the scaffold in the middle of the market place, with an A on her chest. Dimmesdale hasnt told anyone that he is the adulterer. He sits in the balcony with the Governor, and others, watching the display, without any expression or emotion.
Hester and Pearl go to the Governors home to deliver a pair of gloves, but more importantly to talk about the possibility of the government taking away her child. After Mr. Wilson asks Pearl a few questions, the Governor decides that Hester is unready to be a mother, and that the child would be better off in the hands of the church. Hester begs Dimmesdale, whom she says knows everything about her and has charge of her soul, to speak for her. Therefore, he does, convincing the Governor to let Hester keep Pearl.
Late at night, a few years after the previous incident, Dimmesdale takes a walk through the town. He climbs onto the scaffold and pretends to confess, but there is no one out at this time at night. Hester and Pearl pass Dimmesdale on the scaffold while they were on their way home. Dimmesdale calls out to them and they join him, standing in the darkness. Dimmesdale has begun the road to confession by acknowledging Hester and Pearl and by acting out confession. Now he feels guiltier than ever. He tortures himself by whipping and self-inflicting the letter A on his chest. As a result, Dimmesdale preaches some of the best sermons of his life and becomes more involved with the church and its people. His morality has strengthened even more because he has a large amount of guilt that can be heard in his voice, and he wants salvation.
Near the end of the book, Dimmesdale and Hester finally meet in the woods to talk. They decide to flee the town by a ship that is leaving in a few days. After making this choice, Dimmesdale is haunted by bad feelings and strange urges that make him realize that it is Satan urging him to deny his sin by running away. Therefore, Dimmesdale changes his mind and chooses to stay.
After his change of heart, Dimmesdale re-writes the Election Day sermon that he is to preach. He successfully gives the sermon and afterwards climbs up onto the scaffold. He then asks Hester and Pearl to join him. Pearl is excited because she has waiting for this moment for a long time. Hester is hesitant, but does join him. Standing hand in hand once again, Dimmesdale confesses to the town that he is the adulterer, and shows the A on his chest.
In conclusion, I think Dimmesdale is a lot like many people today. We are afraid to admit to wrong doings and we allow the guilt to overcome us until we cannot bear it any longer. Dimmesdale is the perfect example of how evil we can become when we let our guilt overcome us. He is the one who progresses the most in the story because he becomes ashamed when he realizes what he is doing, and as a result, he confesses.