The Scarlet Letter
How we cite our quotes:
"Be not silent from any mistaken pity and tenderness for him; for, believe me, Hester, though he were to step down from a high place, and stand there beside thee, on thy pedestal of shame, yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him, except it tempt him —yea, compel him, as it were —to add hypocrisy to sin?" (3.26)
Would not the people start up in their seats, by a simultaneous impulse, and tear him down out of the pulpit which he defiled? Not so, indeed! They heard it all, and did but reverence him the more. They little guessed what deadly purport lurked in those self-condemning words. "The godly youth!" said they among themselves. "The saint on earth! (11.7)
It's not like Dimmesdale doesn't try to confess. He does—sort of. A little half-heartedly and non-distinctly, but still. The problem is that his community just won't believe it. So, is it their fault that he's a hypocrite? Do they force him to live a lie?
"Nay; not so, my little Pearl!" answered the minister; for, with the new energy of the moment, all the dread of public exposure, that had so long been the anguish of his life, had returned upon him; and he was already trembling at the conjunction in which—with a strange joy, nevertheless—he now found himself. "Not so, my child. I shall, indeed, stand with thy mother thee one other day, but not to-morrow!" (12.17-28)
As our mother always said, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today," which in this case includes confessing your adulterous sin to your worshipful community. Dimmesdale, like us, should listen to our mother a little more often.