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Character in the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The man with which Hester Pryne conceives her child Pearl. He is outwardly veiwed as a saint, which only increases his inner hatred of his inability to confess his sin. His guilt leads him to punish himself physically and mentally. It is possible that, in addition to becoming gaunt, his guilt caused him to develop a heart problem.
"The aged members of his flock, beholding Mr. Dimmesdale's frame so feeble, while they themselves so rugged in their infirmity, believed that he would go heavenward before them, and enjoined it upon their children that their old bones should be buried close to their young pastor's holy grave. And, all this time, perchance, when poor Dimmesdale was thinking of his grave, he questioned with himself wether the grass would ever grow on it, because an accursed thing must there be buried." - The Scarlet Letter
(The Interior of a Heart)

Translation: The old people that he preaches to think he is so humble and saint-like, that they want to be buried close to him. But Arthur Dimmesdale thinks he is so sinful that grass wouldn't grow on his grave when he dies.
by Ivakin October 19, 2008
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