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man vs himself

A great deal of blood has been shed and many wars have been fought during the history of civilization; however, mans greatest battle and most formidable enemy is only himself. This has been made only more evidentwith the passage of time and the development of the human character. However, one factor that has remained constantin the human character through this development is conscience. Conscience can be mans saving grace or hisdamning affliction; its presence may simultaneously purify and mar. As contradictory as this may sound, it has beenexplored in depth by Nathaniel Hawthorne who chronicles one mans battle against himself in The Scarlet Letter. Inthis novel, an anguished Arthur Dimmesdale struggles to pacify his conscience and withhold the secret of his sin frombeing known. As his conscience continues to consume all that is his very essence, Arthur Dimmesdale illustratesHawthornes theme of a sin-stained conscience and redemption only through truth. The novel begins to delve into theheart and conscience of Arthur Dimmesdale when Roger Chillingworth questions him about his thoughts on sinners and theirsecrets. Feeling full well the torment of his own secret, Arthur proclaims that those who hold such "miserablesecretswill yield them up that last daywith a joy unutterable." By this expression, Arthur offers a glimpse into his torturedheart and shows how heavy a burden his secret is. When Chillingworth further inquires about such sinful secrets, Arthurholds his hand to his breast, a motion that he carries out as "if afflicted with an importunate throb of pain." Evidently Arthurdoes this frequently, and the reader is presented with the thought that this gesture possibly is not done as much out ofphysical suffering as spiritual suffering. Not only is the health of Arthurs body in question, but the condition of his heart,his soul, is dubious. A supernatural light is later shed upon this question as Chillingworth uncovers the secret Arth...

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