Arthur Dimmesdale As A Tragic Hero – Essay Example

The paper "Arthur Dimmesdale As A Tragic Hero" is an outstanding example of a literature essay. A tragic hero is an individual who makes a mistake that leads to his or her destruction.  Often a tragic hero can be seen to be a plaything of fate, like Oedipus in Sophocles’ plays, or as someone who embraces a destructive fate like Shakespeare’s Hamlet. However, just being a tragic figure is not enough to be meet the qualification of “tragic hero.” The character must be a hero as well as being tragic. While I believe Dimmesdale does destroy himself through his own mistakes, and that he is tragic, I don’t really believe he is a hero.
Although Dimmesdale is respected by the town and is generally a kind man, though his public actions show he is not a hero. He allows Hester and Pearl to publicly suffer for the adulterous “crime” and to be shunned by the townspeople. Instead of taking personal responsibility and standing with them, he decides to try to repent inwardly and in private, in part by branding himself with his own A. While this is clearly an indication that he feels guilty and is personally suffering, it is quite hard to see this behaviour as in any way heroic. Indeed, when he publicly refuses to acknowledge Pearl as his daughter we begin to see how much he has invested in his reputation and how the way he is perceived by the townspeople is more important to him than his own daughter. This also is hardly the behaviour of a hero.
The fact that Dimmesdale only confesses on the scaffold at the end of the novel, when he expects he can now escape from the town and live with Hester in Europe, reinforces this point. He feels a sense of release having spoken to Hester in the woods; he feels like he can now embark on a different, easier life. In a sense, there is no longer any risk to him as he expects to leave the town. A hero is someone who takes a chance and puts him or herself on the line. Dimmesdale never does.