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What is meant by the phrase " We now dug into poor Clergyman's heart like a miner...

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summer3 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 3, 2007 at 12:15 AM via web

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What is meant by the phrase " We now dug into poor Clergyman's heart like a miner searching for gold"? Is it meant literally or symbolically or both?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 3, 2007 at 12:45 AM (Answer #1)

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Well, first, isn't the phrase "He now dug…"?

That aside, it is deeply symbolic, but it may also have some minor literal meanings. By that I mean, in Chapter 10 Chillingworth is mainly examining Dimsdale on a spiritual and moral level. It is therefore mainly spiritual. However, that chapter mentions a belief that odd flowers grow from a diseased heart (literally, in a graveyard), and Chillingworth does look at Dimsdale's chest at the end of the chapter, so there is some literal meaning there. Mostly, though, it is symbolic.

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