Dimmesdale: a Morally Ambiguous Man

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter revolves around a rather large cast of characters all with their own set of morals and agendas. A handful of characters, specifically the main characters of Hester, Chillingsworth and Dimmesdale, fall under the classification of morally ambiguous. These several morally ambiguous characters played different pivotal roles, in fact, most characters presented can be evaluated as embodying both good and evil qualities. Dimmesdale is an especially ambiguous character. His moral and social prestige and contrasting roles as a reverend minister and adulterer give him a rare chance to play a rarely seen type of character. Dimmesdale’s moral ambiguity comes from his lack of courage to be the right person and to do the right thing. Dimmesdale is devastated, from a character standpoint, by his role in impregnation and thus adultery with Hester Prynne. He is terribly afraid of the public finding out about his role in all of this in fear that, in learn that their beloved minister has fallen into sin, they too will fall and never see the gates of Heaven. In a grand demonstration of his cowardice he says, "Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him--yea, compel him, as it were--to add hypocrisy to sin?"(Hawthorn 49). His extreme cowerdice led him to attack Hester publically atop thee scaffold along with Governor Bellingham and Reverend Wilson. He let Hester be judged solely by her effect on the two men implicated in the adulterous triangle, and be shamed and alienated from the rest of the community, while Dimmesdale, himself, was becoming more popular and admired
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