The Scarlet Letter Chapter 11 Summary And Analysis
After sensing the minister’s secret, Chillingworth begins to torment him through intimidating innuendos relentlessly. Though Dimmesdale is blind to Chillingworth’s intentions, he nevertheless develops fear and hatred towards him.
As Dimmesdale grows weak, his popularity with the congregation grows. This mistaken admiration inflicts more torture on his soul at times, bringing him to the brink of making his confession.
He offers eloquent sermons, but the parishioners perceive his indirect allusions to his sim as more evidence of his holy nature. Moreover, since Dimmesdale cannot dare confess that Hester was his lover and that he fathered her daughter- an act necessary to redeem himself from the sin- he opts for self-punishment by beating himself using a bloody whip and keeping regular night-long vigils. During these vigils, frightening visions cross his mind. One night during his peace-seeking routine, Dimmesdale carefully dresses up in clerical attire and exits the house.
A Brief Analysis of the Chapter 11
The major theme in this chapter focuses on the agony Dimmesdale undergoes. However, he is powerless when it comes to confessing. We can also see that Chillingworth is now sure about the minister’s sin. He has therefore resolved to get revenge on the man who had an adulterous affair with his wife, leading to the birth of Pearl. His plans have been well thought out and appear to be working for him.
Dimmesdale’s failed attempts at publicly confessing his sins paradoxically make the congregation sympathize with him. He also begins to understand other people’s sins making him offer eloquent and touching sermons. Dimmesdale is aware that the congregation misunderstands his half confessions and intentionally takes advantage of the misunderstanding. Meanwhile, Chillingworth is more diabolical than ever before. He symbolizes human evil.