English – Mp 3 Pd 7 December 22, 2009 Scarlet Letter Essay The Scarlett Letter displays a moral lesson to all its readers. The character, Reverend Dimmesdale commits the sin of adultery and throughout the book goes through a struggle within himself. Chapter 12: The Minister’s Vigil and Chapter 20: The Minister in a Maze show this struggle within Dimmesdale through similar and different dealings. Chapter 12 is when the minister’s own subconscious takes control of his action and he goes to the scaffold at night as an indirect way of confessing his sin and guilt.
In chapter 20, the minister has various thoughts that are not in his nature, like in chapter 12 it wouldn’t be in the minister’s own nature to go to the scaffold. In both chapters there are various mental activities that can explain this. In chapter 12 of the Scarlet Letter, the minister goes to the scaffold at night subconsciously. Dimmesdale is not capable of confessing his sin, so his subconscious tries to relieve the conflict he has between his lack of will to confess and his puritan conscious. “Walking in the shadow of a dream, as it were and perhaps actually under the influence of a type of somnambulism, Mr.
Dimmesdale reached the spite where, now so long since, Hester Prynne had lived through her first hours of public ignominy. ” Hawthorne through this sentence explains that the minister is sleep walking to the scaffold. It is not in his own conscious control and his subconscious is making the minister do this. In his mind, he can no longer take the guilt, but yet he can’t confess, so his subconscious takes control to help relieve the conflict by trying to make Dimmesdale confess. His Puritan conscious is a strong part of Dimmesdale, unlike in later chapters.
After chapter 17, when Dimmesdale agreed to a deliberate sin, his Puritan conscious felt betrayed and left behind. Now without his own Puritan conscious in his mind, Dimmesdale is tempted to do many wicked things. His mind no longer has a protection to the temptations of sin. He believes himself to have made a pact with Satan, he is aware of the situation in his mind where he is tempted to sin. “At every step he was incited to do some strange, wild, wicked thing or other, with a sense that it would be at once involuntary and intentional; in spite of himself, yet growing out of a profounder self than that which opposed the impulse. This quote shows that Dimmesdale was haunted by the impulses of sin, that it would soon grow involuntary and intentional and that he has lost his Puritan conscious, which was the driving force for opposing the temptations of sin. Both chapters show a mental state that Dimmesdale is in. Chapter 12 shows Dimmesdale own subconscious mind try to do what Dimmesdale can’t don consciously, which is confess to his sin and guilt. In chapter 20, Dimmesdale’s mind is haunted by the impulses to commit wicked sins.
Dimmesdale is aware of his mental state in chapter 20, unlike in chapter 12 where his subconscious was in control. That is a difference between chapter 12 and 20, in one chapter the minister is unaware of the events, in the other he is fully aware. Even counting this difference, both chapters are similar with the terms that they both deal with the minister’s mental state, that of conflict between lack of will and his Puritan conscious as in chapter 12, or that in which the minister’s mind has lost his Puritan conscious and is tempted to commit sin, as in chapter 20.