Plot in The Scarlet Letter
Here, the reader is informed that people such as Governor Bellingham as well as the leaders of the Puritan Church desire to take Pearl away from Hester.
Hester wears the scarlet letter on her bosom as a symbol of her sin and shame. By wanting “to go deep into [Dimmesdale’s] bosom,” Chillingworth wants to investigate more than just Dimmesdale’s medical ailments, perhaps he wants to delve deeper into the young minister’s past and psyche.
Chillingworth continues to discuss the idea of bottling up one’s personal sins with the reverend. He proposes this question to Dimmesdale because he thinks Dimmesdale has sins that no one knows about, and perhaps this is the reason the old physician befriended the young minister in the first place. Chillingworth understands Dimmesdale is a God-fearing man, and the best way to drive a confession would be by emphasizing how God pardons those who seek forgiveness.
Reverend Dimmesdale does not know who Roger Chillingworth truly is, but readers know about Chillingworth. With this knowledge, we believe that Chillingworth says this to Dimmesdale because Chillingworth suspects him of being the person who had the affair with Hester.
Hester hopes to save Dimmesdale from Chillingworth’s wrath. Hester feels responsible for his demise, and perhaps still cares about him as much as when they had the affair.
This gives the reader an idea of how much time has passed in the story. It has been seven years since the scaffold scene and four years from when Governor Bellingham tried taking Pearl from Hester.
This line indicates that Dimmesdale and Hester often talked with one another and clearly cared for each other--which, they likely still do. Over the last seven years, they have not likely interacted much since their circumstances have seriously limited their interactions.
This simile represents one of the major questions presented by the novel, what is more morally correct: the laws of nature or the laws of man? “The untamed forest” symbolizes the “moral wilderness” in which Hester lives. She constantly must wrestle with what is truely good and what society claims is the clear path.
Recall chapter VIII when the town magistrates wanted to take Pearl from Hester to, allegedly, give Hester a clearer path to forgiveness. Pearl and Hester ended up not being separated because Dimmesdale stood up for them to keep them together. Hester reminds Dimmesdale of this because she wants him to understand that Pearl will love and appreciate him, and they could all come together as a family.
Hester and Dimmesdale had decided to sail away together with Pearl. However, with happiness so close to being reached, Hester is dejected by Chillingworth learning of their plans and deciding to join them on their journey. Chillingworth’s enduring presence represents the persistence of evil.
Dimmesdale feels that his death will come soon, so he wants to address the people that have so loved him one last time. Although he knows it will be his last sermon, the crowd has no idea that he is about to die.