Alienation In Scarlet Letter

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Alienation among many throughout Nathaniel Hawthone’s The Scarlet Letter, the main characters suffer psychological damage as a result of different forms of alienation. The character traits they posses make them more susceptible to certain types of alienation. Since Dimmesdale cannot reveal his secret to anyone, he can not share his pain. All the pent up guilt he has stored with in eats away at him, slowly deteriorating his body and soul. Dimmesdale’s masochistic and pious attributes greatly contribute to the extent of his alienation. For the reverend it was “essential to his peace to feel the pressure of a faith about him.” This need for punishment coupled with religious devotion gives reason for Dimmesdale’s secrecy. Hiding his intimate self from other people bestows Dimmesdale the punishment he so desperately seeks. His mental breakdown stemming from his social alienation is most clearly shown in the chapter the “The Minister’s Vigil”. His self-torture leads him to walk “under the influence of a species of somnambulism”, thinking irrationally in a way not like himself. His pent up agony causes Dimmesdale to act out in ways like this that could reveal his secret. Dimmesdale’s psychological agony partly stems from a form of spiritual alienation. As a minister, he has a close relationship with God and has a strong sense of spirituality. Due to his sin, his relationship with God suffers in the way that his sin separates him from the teachings of Jesus. Without the virtue and purity he once held, Dimmesdale views himself unworthy in the eyes of God. While lying on the forest floor, Dimmesdale utters “The judgment of God is on me, he is too mighty for me to struggle with!” To close this gap of isolation between God and himself, Dimmesdale commits acts of penance to relieve his sin. His acceptance of Chillingworth’s torture and his use of the “bloody scourge” both show
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