The sixth commandment states, “Thou shall not commit adultery. ” This is something that both John Proctor from “The Crucible” and Arthur Dimmesdale from “The Scarlet Letter” committed. John Proctor’s partner in crime is Abigail Williams and Arthur Dimmesdale’s is Hester Prynne. The big difference between these two men is that John accepts his sin and Arthur does not. They both share the same sin, but they lived two different but similar lives. Since they both were Puritans and people that the town looked up to.
The most glaring difference between John and Arthur is the fact that John isn’t a holy man. Hell, he doesn’t even attend church on Sundays. But this doesn’t change the fact that he completely regrets his crime of adultery. I think it might affect John a lot more than Arthur because he already has a significant other. This makes the sin more personal for John in that regard. John’s reason for not being a holy man (which was a big deal for the time) can be traced to 2 things. 1: Him being a farmer makes his life revolve around the randomness of the weather and the brutality of nature.
The corruptness of the religious members of the town. An example is all of the witch accusations that are completely ridiculous and the priest asking the townspeople for money instead of preaching god. John’s personality is also completely different. He is entirely confident in himself (sometimes appearing arrogant) but believes he is right all of the time. This is one of the factors why the townspeople look up to him. But also one of the reasons the townspeople turned against him so fast when he admitted to adultery. Arthur Dimmesdale is as holy as you can get.
He is a famous minister that gets transferred to the town of the scarlet letter and is respected by everyone. He eventually commits adultery with Hester Prynne which tears him up inside because it goes against everything he knows. He then beats himself up over it the entire book going as far as mutilating himself as “punishment”. Now that I mention it maybe Arthur regrets it more. Think about it, he gets punished for having a “thing” with the only woman he ever loved. Also it breaks all the rules in his lifestyle. Challenging his very means of living.
He even gets a child out of this “mistake”. Pearl, who is a constant reminder of what he did. Arthurs personality is definitely a lot weaker than Johns. He is an incredibly weak man after the affair. Leaving as a shell of his former self. He is in so much guilt over what happened that he starts losing his own sense of reality at one point. Arthur is also incredibly susceptible to Rogers tricks in the book making him a weak man. Now that you know the differences between the characters let’s talk about how they accept their sin.
John is pushed to the point where he has no other choice but to confess to the town that he had an affair with Abigail Williams. John is 100% strong in his decision though. He gives Abigail a cold shoulder on his way to his death telling her that it was a mistake and that he never loved her. But he tells his wife that he’s sorry for everything and that he loves her. In my humble opinion I think Proctor went out in pride. Accepting what he did and taking it like a man. Arthur…not so much.
He knows he’s dying so he decides to let the town know the truth by showing the “A” carved on his chest to the entire town. This literally takes the “burden” off his chest but dies immediately after. This shows that he couldn’t take the guilt and that’s what killed him. Revealing it was too much for him. This was my comparison of characters in Puritan society stories and I favored John Proctor over Arthur Dimmesdale. They are both good analysis’s of the human condition and really made me think. Just remember that…. “A person that never made a mistake never tried anything new. ” – Albert Einstein