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The Scarlet Letter: Arthur Dimmesdale as Protagonist.

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“Hidden Guilt Abolishes Selfless” Those who keep their sins and feelings to themselves cause themselves only anguish and despair. In The Scarlet Letter, a romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Arthur Timescale is a young man who achieved fame in England as a theologian and then Immigrated to America. In a moment of weakness, he and Hester Prying, a young, beautiful, married woman whose husband Is away In Europe, become lovers. Although he will not confess It publicly, Timescale Is the father of her child; also, he deals with the guilt by tormenting himself physically and psychologically, evildoing a heart condition in the process.

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Timescale is an intelligent and emotional man, and his sermons are thus masterpieces of eloquence and persuasiveness. His commitments to his congregation are in constant conflict with his feelings of sinfulness and need to confess. He lives behind a false self for many years while unknowingly living beside Hester husband, finally his true self appears and he is redeemed of his sins as he admits them publicly.

Selfless can be achieved when a hypocritical persona is rejected and the true self consistently emerges.

Timescale is shown as the protagonist of the romance through Hawthorn’s use of characterization, conflict, by showing the transformation of Timescale, and by showing that Roger Chlorinating and Damselfly’s own guilt oppose him. Hawthorne uses characterization throughout The Scarlet Letter to show Timescale as the protagonist. The Scarlet Letter is a story of characters that have to live and deal with the effects of sin in different ways; of these characters, the Reverend Arthur Timescale is the character portrayed as the most inadequate.

Despite this portrayal Timescale was a stronger character than given credit for, his unbelievable amount of control In his way of handling his burdens displays his great sense of strength and Intellect; although, he Is very Intelligent, his faults mask his dignity, Timescale Is aware that he Is covering up his true self but hides these feelings to keep his reputation of being a pious, dutiful minister. His shortcomings and distress throughout the narrative conceal his pride, “Timescale clearly suffers from an excess of self.

His weakness and suffering throughout most of the romance, as I suggested earlier, have tended to blur for some readers the fact of his pride, which, like his scarlet letter, Lies beneath and gives special form to his mask of saintliness” (Martin 124). He Is first characterized as a nervous and sensitive individual, despite his outer appearance, inside Timescale is a very stable, strong person. Hawthorne states that he showed nervous sensibility and a great willpower, “His eloquence and religious fervor had already given the earnest of high eminence in his profession… Expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self- restraint” (Hawthorne 51). While this seems to give Timescale great strength, It Is also his largest flaw; moreover, his body refuses to do what his heart says Is right. Have the determination to confess himself. Therefore, his sin becomes even larger than hers, because while hers is an exposed sin. He continues to lie to himself and his followers by keeping his secret hidden, so his is a concealed sin, while Hester Nears her sin openly on her bosom.

Here Hawthorne shows us Just how strong Timescale actually is, by allowing him to hide his sin and bear the weight of it, he creates an extremely interesting and tremendously strong character; further, the scaffold is the place that Timescale shows the amount of pain and self-loathing he is truly capable of concealing. Timescale denies the fact that he is associated with Hester, and also that he is the father of Pearl multiple times, particularly during those crucial scaffold scenes. During those long seven years he made no move to lessen her load or his own.

Seven {ears prior, Hester stood in this place and took the punishment for both of them Nile he quietly stood aside and led people to believe that he also condemned her. During the first scaffold scene Timescale interrogates Hester, his purpose was to mind out who the father of her daughter was, Timescale pretended as if he had never spoken to Hester before, as did Hester. Timescale acknowledges their relationship later on in the narrative, but at this time he must seem as if he does not know her because if the magistrates of Boston knew of their relationship, Timescale would be treated with the same rejection as Hester.

During the second scaffold scene Timescale has had all that he can bear and lets out a yell that draws the attention of fellow villagers, “Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain myself, he shrieked aloud” (108). He curses himself for his silence and cowardice. Also in the second scaffold scene Timescale denies Hester and Pearl again when Pearl asks him to stand with herself and Hester during the day in public, “Wilt thou stand here with mother and me to-morrow noontide? ” Timescale responded, “Nay, not so, my little Pearl! ” (1 11).

Finally the last time Timescale stood on the scaffold he accepted Hester and admitted that he was indeed the father of Pearl, “The law we [himself and Hester] broke! – the sin here so awfully revealed! ” (181). During the third scaffold scene the true sign of strength is revealed, to admit he is wrong takes strength, but the way that he held in his sin thus committing two, one of the original sin, and two of the concealment, then confessing after years of frustrating cowardice takes a stronger man. Timescale is also characterized as a very hypocritical being.

He has the town believe that he is a pious, dedicated minister, when in actuality he has sinned greatly, “But Damselfly’s burden keeps him on a level with the lowest. His congregation worships him; their adoration intensifies his guilty anguish; and his offering heightens his fervor” (Male 334). He is not brave enough to publicly admit his sins until the end of the narrative; moreover, he lives years hiding his secret of adultery. The only people who know his secret before he publicly condemns himself are Hester, Pearl, and Chlorinating.

He suffers from this secret every day and night, he punishes himself physically and tortures himself mentally, as well as being tortured mentally and physically by Chlorinating, “Timescale suffers worlds of penance; but, since he is not willing to sacrifice the public image of himself, it is nuance without penitence. He knows that the morality of this colony calls for sin and matter” (Martin 124). It takes Timescale three trips to the scaffold for him to be able to reveal to the public that he is the father of Pearl and that he had hidden his sin for many years.

His demise was from the drain of his will, which was worn and lacking. Timescale was not courageous in his actions in the story but strong; he Nas able to carry the burdens, frustration, and pain throughout his life. Whether he Nas good, brave, or right in what he did is to remain unseen but the fact that he was throng is certain. Rev. Timescale is proven to be the protagonist of the narrative also by conflict, he proves to be a sinner against man, against God and most importantly against himself because he has committed adultery with Hester.

His sinning against himself, for Inch he ultimately paid the price of death, proved to be more harmful and more destructive than this sin of the flesh, and his sin against God. Damselfly’s internal conflict causes him more anguish and discontent than any external conflict throughout the romance. His internal feelings of sin and his late night attempts to deem himself on the scaffold are more of a mockery of ignominy than actual Ignominy, “So long as they are covert, the minister’s gestures are but a mockery of penance, and his cloistral flagellation’s, fasts, and vigils are unavailing” (Male 334).

Timescale is not ignorant, he is very well educated, as Hawthorne states, “… Rev. Mr.. Timescale; a young clergyman who had come from one of the great English universities, bringing all the learning of the age into our wild forestland. His eloquence and religious fervor had already given the earnest of high eminence in his profession. (Hawthorne 72). This man’s morals had, until the adultery, been high. He is very spiritual because on top of being of the Puritan faith, he is a minister of the Nor of God.

Throughout most of the novel, Rev. Timescale is forced to hide his guilt of being Hester partner in sin, when in reality, he is not being forced by anyone, but himself, for he is the one who chooses not to reveal his secret to the town. Timescale has a concealed sin that is eating at him. He Just doesn’t have the courage to admit his wrongs. He seems to be a coward during these seven years of living with guilt. There is a scene in chapter three where Timescale states, “Hester Prying… F thou feeblest it to be for thy soul’s peace, and that thy earthly punishment Nail thereby be made more effectual to salvation, I charge thee to speak out the name of thy fellow -sinner and fellow- sufferer! 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? (73).

In this scene it is almost as if we see Timescale speaking as a hypocrite. Timescale portrays himself very ironically; he is a very well respected reverend and yet, has, for the last seven years, worked on preaching the word of God, especially while he urges the congregation to confess openly to repent unto God. While, in reality, Timescale is the one who needs a clean conscious. He feels like he needs to confess not only to the town but also too himself. Halfway through the novel Timescale has yet to reveal the truth, which, so far, has been devouring him, physically and mentally. Imply.

He is of the Puritan faith and being a follower of that, the sin of adultery is a ‘ere grand sin; additionally, the whole town would look down on him as if he were a hypocrite, which in fact, he is, but his sin of adultery in that town would have been scoffed at Just as Hester has. The reverend is very well liked by the townsfolk, “They fancied him the mouthpiece of Heaven’s messages of wisdom, rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified. ” (139). He has been living Introit revealing his true self for seven years, and it was hard for him, mentally and hectically.

Mentally, his whole body shuts down because he cannot take it anymore, even though he does not give in to confess yet. He has become emaciated because he has let the sin against himself churn inside and on the outside he has spent many nights whipping himself. Perhaps this is a sign for him to feel he has punished himself, as God would have punished him, if he were on Earth. One day while Timescale and Roger Chlorinating are talking about medicinal plants that Chlorinating found on an old grave that had no tombstone or marking whatsoever, Chlorinating says to Timescale, “…

They grew out of his heart, and typify, it may be, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime. ” (129). It’s as if Chlorinating can tell that Rev. Timescale is hiding something, something that could be the cause of his health depleting. Chlorinating then states that, “Then why not reveal them here? ” (129). Chlorinating knows, he simply knows that there is something else, something that Timescale has not yet come forth to tell him.

Timescale, in chapter twelve, is finally realizing that it could be a better thing to disclose his secret to the town. He has become so weak that he has even thought about his own death; moreover, he has walked to the scaffold and climbed up as if he wants to proclaim something, and yet, it is nighttime and the whole town is resting. Some are at the deathbed of the ailing governor who has Just died. They do not notice him. As Hester and Pearl walk by, Timescale tells them, “Come up hither, Hester, thou and little Pearl…

Ye have both been here before, but I was not with you. Come up hither once again, and we Nail stand all three together! ” (148) Timescale has obviously been thinking that he Ants to reveal himself, he is struggling with internal conflict yet again, but his choice of the hour tells the reader that he cannot confess in the day, not yet. Pearl herself knows or at least feels that this is right, that the three of them together is a match, because she says, “Wilt thou stand here with Mother and me, tomorrow noontide? ” (148). But Timescale refuses, “Not so, my child.

I shall, indeed, stand Ninth thy mother and thee one other day, but not tomorrow” (148-149). Timescale is coming close to speaking, but he does not. He reveals his truths to the town after he as preached his finest sermon and after the town is holding him so very high on a pedestal. Timescale says to the town, “… Ye, that have loved me! -ye that have deemed me holy! -behold me here, the one sinner of the world! At last! -at last! -l stand upon the spot where, seven years since, I should have stood; here, with this Oman… ” (237). Now that Timescale has confessed his secret, he can die.

He has admitted to being the father of Hester Prune’s child, Pearl, and his poor corpse, Inch is so deathly, can rest in peace now. His mind is well aware that it can live on knowing that the truth is out but his body is so battered that it cannot go on living. Has not lived a true life because for seven years he has lived in denial of his sin. It did prove to be more harmful in the end, since he died on the scaffold while standing next to his fellow-sinner Hester. He knew that he needed to reveal himself but in his Puritan ways, it was hard to confess.

The irony he portrays and the hypocrisy that he lives is such a grand sin in itself, he lived looking his sin in the face every single day, because he was a minister and not only would have to answer to the townsfolk after e had admitted but he had to face God everyday; his character has perhaps the central struggle in this novel, for he has the struggle within, and the struggle portrayed outwardly to the town, and Hester; in addition, he is definitely a very dramatic character in this novel, for Hawthorne stated, “Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be Inferred. (242). When Hawthorne made this quote in reference to Rev. Timescale, he meant many things, he said that he should “be true” and “… Show freely to the Nor,” because Timescale should have showed his true feelings about Hester, and his feelings that he kept hidden for seven years about the adultery then, he would have much more relief. When Hawthorne says “… If not your worst… Whereby the Norms may be inferred,” he is saying that if you cannot at least get out the worst trait that you have been indicted of, you should try to get a point across that would aid in the finding of that worst trait.

By this quote, it appears that Hawthorne thought that if Timescale had only confessed earlier, he had the opportunities, he could have admitted his sins each time he was at the scaffold, then he would have saved himself from all the torment he had put himself through; additionally, it appears that Hawthorne meant that the town, itself, would still have scoffed but wouldn’t have remembered the sin of adultery as much now, as back then when Hester got accused as well.

Timescale is shown at the protagonist of The Scarlet Letter by being opposed by his own conscience and by Roger Chlorinating. Chlorinating opposes Timescale in the sense that, he knows that Timescale has repressed sin; and, he desires to mind out what that sin is, “This man, pure as they deem him,- all spiritual as he seems,- hath inherited a strong animal nature from his father or his mother. Let us dig a little farther in the direction of this vein! ” (94).

Timescale thought that he had friendly relationship with Chlorinating, “He therefore still kept up a familiar intercourse with him, daily receiving the old physician in his study; or visiting the laboratory, and, for recreation’s sake, watching the process by which weeds were converted into drugs of potency” (95), but in actuality Chlorinating was torturing Timescale without Timescale knowing it. Chlorinating constantly tortured Timescale physically and mentally. Chlorinating is always giving the minister drugs that he makes with weeds.

Many times the physician acquires these weeds from the town cemetery, these weeds are also characterized as, “unsightly,” “ugly” or, ‘dark and tangled,” this suggests that the medicine that Timescale is taking is tenuous. Chlorinating is generally characterized as an evil person, and many of the actions he takes suggest that he represents the devil; moreover, he even notices this similarity in himself, “I have already told thee what I am! A fiend! ” (158). s representative of the devil. Timescale is also shown as the protagonist through his opposition to his own conscience, he opposes himself in many ways.

Damselfly’s true self which he reveals at the end of the narrative is the protagonist when compared to his true self throughout the rest of the narrative. His true self during the majority of the narrative IS a man who has sinner and refuses to publicly admit it. During this time he privately hurts himself and damages his mind and his body. Although, that the end of the romance, he repents and is able to die. He was not able to die until he closed his secret because without divulging his sin he would not be close enough to God, and he believed that he would not be in Heaven after his death.

Timescale ultimately was transformed from a man too timid to share his sin publicly, to one who proclaims to the entire town that he is the father of the illegitimate child whose mother has been accepting his sin for years. He was too coy to publicly come form as Pearl’s father that he went to the scaffold in the dead of night to “repent,” although this action was more a mockery of penance than actual ignominy, “No eye could see him… Why then had he come hither? Was it but the mockery of penitence? A mockery indeed… ” (107).

Timescale was changed from the apprehensive, seemingly pious and innocent minister to the man that proclaimed his sin openly, “The new man is really Arthur Timescale. Having achieved individuation in the forest, he now returns to Join the procession only to rise above it” (Male 341). Hawthorne shows Damselfly’s complete transformation through characterization and conflict, Timescale could only die after he redeemed himself through Ignominy. Thus, Arthur Timescale is established as the protagonist of The Scarlet Letter,

Hawthorne shows this through characterization, internal and external conflict, transformation, and Damselfly’s opposition of Roger Chlorinating and his own conscience. Those who keep their sins and feelings to themselves cause themselves only anguish and despair, Arthur Timescale did this throughout the majority of The Scarlet Letter, he internalized his feelings and sins and was not able to express them until the final scaffold scene when he threw himself at the mercy of God as he died Ninth a clear conscience. Sense of self can be attained when a deceitful facade is rejected and the true self steadily materializes.

Cite this The Scarlet Letter: Arthur Dimmesdale as Protagonist.

The Scarlet Letter: Arthur Dimmesdale as Protagonist.. (2018, Feb 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-scarlet-letter-arthur-dimmesdale-as-protagonist/

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