"that Remorse which dogged him everywhere, and whose own sister and closely linked companion was that Cowardice which invariably drew him back"
Personifications of Truth and Remorse - detail from Calumny of Apelles (1494-5)
Public DomainPersonifications of Truth and Remorse - detail from Calumny of Apelles (1494-5) - Credit: Sandro Botticelli

In personifying Dimmesdale’s emotions, Hawthorne draws on the devices of Christian allegorical literature, in which assorted vices and virtues take on human guises. There’s more than an echo here of Bunyan's Pilgrim’s Progress, in which Christian is alternatively helped and hindered by such characters as Hopeful, Ignorance, Faithful and Hypocrisy. Allegory is a key feature of Hawthorne’s work. However, in his hands, this typically didactic expedient becomes ambiguous and troubling, directing the reader towards a straightforward interpretation and then besetting it with myriad complications so as to satirize the desire for simple moral allegiances.