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Ehba Zaidi October 27, 2011 5th hour A Cowards Deed The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells

the story of a town in which two people commit adultery and then are forced to live with the guilt and the symbol of their sin. Unlike some of the other characters of this novel, Reverend Dimmesdale cannot come to terms with the scarlet letter. In The Scarlet Letter, it seems as though Dimmesdale is trying to come to terms with Pearl as his illegitimate child but his attempts cannot make up for his cowardly actions in the past. Reverend Dimmesdale, consumed by his guilt, stood at the scaffold with Pearl and Hester but he refused to claim Pearl as his child in public. Standing at the scaffold with Pearl and Hester, Dimmesdale says this when he tells Pearl, Not so, my child. I shall, indeed, stand with thy mother and thee one other day, but not to-morrow (139). This statement made by Dimmesdale proves the fact that he was willing to accept Pearl in secret but refused to accept her and Hester in front of the townspeople. Furthermore, he also says that he would not accept Pearl until judgment day. Pearls feelings towards Dimmesdales response can be determined through her actions when she laughs and pulls away from Dimmesdale insisting that he promise to take her and Hesters hand in public. This moment displays Dimmesdales cowardice, but this is not an isolated moment. Fearing punishment, Dimmesdale has kept the scarlet letter, branded on his chest, away from the eyes of the townspeople. While Dimmesdale is sleeping, Chillingworth discovers the mark of sin on Dimmesdales chest; Hawthorne says, The physician advanced directly in front of his patient, laid his hand upon his bosom, and thrust aside the vestment, that, hitherto, had

always covered it even from the professional eye (110). Because Dimmesdale does not want to reveal his sin of adultery, he has branded the scarlet letter A on his chest. This implies that he feels guilty for his actions and seeks redemption. He is a coward because all this time he has kept the scarlet letter branded on his chest and away from the eyes of the townspeople. It can be deduced that Pearl is the scarlet letter, the symbol of Hester and Dimmesdales sin. Dimmesdale views Pearl as the scarlet letter because she is the physical consequence of his sin which he cannot accept in public and cannot come to terms with. Being a recreant, he has found a way to come to terms with the scarlet letter and his child by keeping the letter hidden away from the eyes of the people. As Dimmesdale struggles with coming to terms with his child, he also struggles with her acceptance of him. Dimmesdale believes that because of his treatment of Pearl, she will not accept him and will not give him a chance to be close to her. While Hester and Dimmesdale are having a heartto-heart, Dimmesdale reveals that he is afraid of Pearl when he says, Dost thou think the child will be glad to know me?...I have even been afraid of little Pearl! (183). Dimmesdale fears that his guilt has driven him away from Pearl. He is also afraid of Pearl, thinking she will not accept him and will not be glad to know him. Dimmesdale fears this because he knows how he has treated Pearl in the past. He knows that she feels denied because of his actions through Pearls own actions when she throws burrs at him. Throughout the novel, Dimmesdales actions portray his cowardice. Had he confessed hi sin, Pearl would not have behaved the way she did. His confession could have avoided all the suffering and pain that all the main characters experienced. Through Dimmesdale, Hawthorne suggests that not owning up to your actions and acting like a coward can affect the lives of others and can lead to a lot of pain and suffering.