The Puritans were very complicated people. They were devoted to God in every way and followed a strict moral code. They made their way to America in the 16th and 17th century in order to practice religious freedom. The Puritans also believed in predestination, everyone is born sinful and that god only selects people he wishes for salvation. If one person of their own should ever go against their beliefs they would be a serious punishment or consequence depending on the sex of the person, the crime or the status of the person.
By looking at who Dimmesdale is, his self flagellation and his change on the scaffold, shows how he has changed throughout the novel. Reverend Dimmesdale is a young Puritan minister, he is well educated and also a person who is devoted to god. The novel talks about this one person named Hester Prynne who has committed adultery and never plans to confess who the father is. Reverend Dimmesdale has one duty that was given to him by the governor. The Governor makes it clear to Reverend Dimmesdale that he has to be the one to get Hester Prynne to confess. The governor also says to Dimmesdale, ” Exhort her to repentance, and to confession, as a proof and consequence thereof” (Hawthorne 59). Later the novel it is shown that Dimmesdale was the father the entire time in silence and in secret. Dimmesdale tries to cope with his sin for as much as he can and tries to keep it a secret without the public knowing, but as he hold his sin the more he feels more away from god.
Later in the novel, Dimmesdale struggles with his sin and tries to find a path to god. He believes that the only way to get god to forgive his sins is to commit self-flagellation. Self-flagellation is a form of religious discipline where a person flogs themselves. Another thing Dimmesdale did was fast, it was said by Hawthorne that “It was his custom, too, as it has been that of many other pious Puritans, to fast,—not, however, like them, in order to purify the body and render it the fitter medium of celestial illumination,—but rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance”(Hawthorne 131). Dimmesdale also was said to have a red mark on his chest which was believed to be a secret Scarlet Letter ‘A’ to represent what he has done. Dimmesdale also gets tortured by Roger Chillingworth who has suspicion that Dimmesdale is the father, the more Dimmesdale is with Chillingworth the more pale and weaker he gets.
After years have passed Dimmesdale and hester begin to plan on how to leave Boston and go to England and never come back because of Chillingworth trying to reveal their secret to the public. They then get seats on a ship to carry them. Before getting ready to leave Dimmesdale has second thoughts about going to england but after his seven years then he thinks to himself, “I could recall one instant of peace or hope, i would yet endure, for the sake of that earnest of Heaven’s mercy”(Hawthorne 138). When Dimmesdale thinks about it he notces that he has never in his life had a happy memory in Boston ever.