AP Language and Composition
19 November 2009
Chapter 17, “The Pastor and His Parishioner,” of The Scarlet Letter, starts off with Dimmesdale returning from his journey through the dark forest, upon which Hester waits faithfully for him out of the public eye, and more importantly, Chillingworth. The scene is gloomy; it is noon, however, the sun is shaded by a clouded sky and the thick foliage of the forest, transforming it into a gray twilight. The moment passes when they encounter face to face after seven years of the punishment Hester has been given. They act coldly until Dimmesdale, with fear and reluctant necessity, grabbed Hester’s hand, which broke the dreary part of the encounter. Afterwards, they sit near a brook on a heap of moss and engage in casual conversation, until they start talking about inner peace, or more specifically, whether they have any inner peace. Dimmesdale has not found any from his hypocrisy and sin. He says he cannot console others about their sins when he is sinful. Hester says he does many good works and his sin should be left behind. Dimmesdale on the other hand wishes that he has someone, a friend, he could console in and tell his sins – this would keep his soul alive. Hester claims she could be that partner, but also warns he has an enemy close to him, even under the same roof. Dimmesdale is shocked. Hester realizes what deep injury she has caused to Dimmesdale, a sensitive soul, to a point where the alienation from virtue is causing him to go mad. Roger Chillingworth is finally revealed to be a deception of goodness, and Dimmesdale sinks to the ground and buries his face in his hands in struggle. Because of the betrayal he feels, he says he will never be able to forgive Hester. Hester rebukes this by saying that he needs to forgive her because it is God who will punish. Then, “in sudden and desperate tenderness,” she took hold of Dimmesdale and placed him...