What are Hester's feelings towards Dimmesdale by chapter 17?
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In chapter 17 we find the following passages that reveal Hester's feelings regarding the Reverend Dimmesdale:
"Hester Prynne was now fully sensible of the deep injury for which she was responsible to this unhappy man, in permitting him to lie for so many years, or, indeed for a single moment, at the mercy of one, whose purpses purposes could not be other than malevolent. . . There had been a period when Hester was less alive to this consideration; or, perhaps, in the misanthropy of her own trouble, she left the minister to bear what she might picture to herself as a more tolerable doom."
"Such was the ruin to which she had brought the man, once, - nay why should we not speak it?- still so passionately loved!"
While listening to Dimmesdale question his worthiness to be a minister, Hester Prynne realizes that he too has been suffering a much more private punishment for his offenses. Not only does he feel an immense degree of guilt, he has also been unknowingly left in the hands of his enemy Roger Chillingworth.
Consequently, Hester feels compassion for him and begs forgiveness for the wrong she has done to him and neglecting to inform him of his enemy. She, or rather the narrator, admits that she still passionately loves him. She acknowledges that he too has suffered, and they make plans to elude her past husband, Chillingworth.
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