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What are some quotes in the book that show Dimmsdale's and Chillingworth's declining...

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coopcoop31 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:35 AM via web

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What are some quotes in the book that show Dimmsdale's and Chillingworth's declining physical condition in The Scarlet Letter?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:38 AM (Answer #1)

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In chapter 11, we find some very specific descriptions of Dimmsdale's physical decline in the words:

While thus suffering under bodily disease, and gnawed and tourtured by some black trouble of the soul, and given over to the machinations of his deadliest enemy, the Reverend Mr. Dimmsdale had achieved a brilliant popularity in his sacred office. He won it, indeed, in great part by his sorrows.

I like how this description uses the term "black" and suggests his phsyical affliction is borne of his sorrow and guilt. This chapter is even entitled "The Interior of a Heart" as it is a study of his condition. It goes on to report that in private, Dimmsdale essentially tortured himself in an effort to purify himself from this great sin.

A quote I found for Chillingworth occurs in chapter 15, after the chapter titled "Hester and the Physician".

Hathorne narrates about him:

So Roger Chillingworth  - a deformed old figure, with a face that haunted men's memories longer than they liked - took leave of Hester.

Obviously in appearance, Chillingworth is a great fright to look at which would only arise out of a failing physical condition.

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:03 AM (Answer #2)

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Chapter 8 and 9

Dimmesdale

Chillingworth

whose health had severely suffered, of late, by his too unreserved self-sacrifice to the labors and duties of the pastoral relation (99)

a change had come over his features,—how much uglier they were,—how his dark complexion seemed to have grown duskier, and his figure more misshapen,—since the days when she had familiarly known him. (102)

the young minister at once came forward, pale, and holding his hand over his heart, as was his custom whenever his peculiarly nervous temperament was thrown into agitation. He looked now more careworn and emaciated than as we described him at the scene of Hester’s public ignominy; and whether it were his failing health, or whatever the cause might be, his large dark eyes had a world of pain in their troubled and melancholy depth. (103-104)

Now, there was something ugly and evil in his face, which they had not previously noticed, and which grew still the more obvious to sight, the oftener they looked upon him. According to the vulgar idea, the fire in his laboratory had been brought from the lower regions, and was fed with infernal fuel; and so, as might be expected, his visage was getting sooty with the smoke.(116)

The young minister, on ceasing to speak, had withdrawn a few steps from the group, and stood with his face partially concealed in the heavy folds of the window-curtain; while the shadow of his figure, which the sunlight cast upon the floor, was tremulous with the vehemence of his appeal. (105)

 

About this period, however, the health of Mr. Dimmesdale had evidently begun to fail. By those best acquainted with his habits, the paleness of the young minister’s cheek was accounted for by his too earnest devotion to study, his scrupulous fulfilment of parochial duty(109)

 

Alas, to judge from the gloom and terror in the depths of the poor minister’s eyes (117)

 

his cheek was paler and thinner, and his voice more tremulous than before,—when it had now become a constant habit, rather than a casual gesture, to press his hand over his heart (111)

 

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:05 AM (Answer #3)

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Chapter 10

Chillingworth:

“Sometimes a light glimmered out of the physician's eyes, burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or, let us say, like one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from Bunyan's awful doorway in the hillside, and quivered on the pilgrim's face” (118).

 

Dimmesdale:

“He groped along as stealthily, with as cautious a tread, and as wary an outlook, as a thief entering a chamber where a man lies only half asleep--or, it may be, broad awake--with purpose to steal the very treasure which this man guards as the apple of his eye” (118).

 

“‘Would you, therefore, that your physician heal the bodily evil? How may this be unless you first lay open to him the wound or trouble in your soul?’” (124). (Chillingworth talking about Dimmesdale)

 

“The Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale, noon-day, and entirely unawares, fell into a deep, deep slumber, sitting in his chair” … “The profound depth of the minister's repose was the more remarkable, inasmuch as he was one of those persons whose sleep ordinarily is as light as fitful, and as easily scared away, as a small bird hopping on a twig. To such an unwonted remoteness, however, had his spirit now withdrawn into itself that he stirred not in his chair when old Roger Chillingworth, without any extraordinary precaution, came into the room” (125-126).

 

Chapter 11

Chillingworth:

“Even, at times, with horror and the bitterness of hatred--at the deformed figure of the old physician. His gestures, his gait, his grizzled beard, his slightest and most indifferent acts, the very fashion of his garments, were odious in the clergyman's sight; a token implicitly to be relied on of a deeper antipathy in the breast of the latter than he was willing to acknowledge to himself” (128).

 

Dimmesdale:

“He took himself to task for his bad sympathies in reference to Roger Chillingworth, disregarded the lesson that he should have drawn from them, and did his best to root them out. Unable to accomplish this, he nevertheless, as a matter of principle, continued his habits of social familiarity with the old man, and thus gave him constant opportunities for perfecting the purpose to which--poor forlorn creature that he was, and more wretched than his victim--the avenger had devoted himself” (128).

 

“While thus suffering under bodily disease, and gnawed and tortured by some black trouble of the soul, and given over to the machinations of his deadliest enemy, the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale had achieved a brilliant popularity in his sacred office” (128).

 

“In Mr. Dimmesdale's secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge…in order to purify the body, and render it the fitter medium of celestial illumination--but rigorously, and until his knees trembled beneath him, as an act of penance. He kept vigils, likewise, night after night, sometimes in utter darkness” (132).

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:05 AM (Answer #4)

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Chapter 12 and Chapter 13

Hester

Dimmesdale

Chillingworth

Even the attractiveness of her person had undergone a similar change. It might be partly owing to the studied austerity of her dress, and partly to the lack of demonstration in her manners. It was a sad transformation, too, that her rich and luxuriant hair had either been cut off, or was so completely hidden by a cap, that not a shining lock of it ever once gushed into the sunshine (148)

as if the universe were gazing at a scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart. On that spot, in very truth, there was, and there had long been, the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain. Without any effort of his will, or power to restrain himself, he shrieked aloud; an outcry that went pealing through the night, and was beaten back from one house to another,(135)

Roger Chillingworth have passed with them for the arch-fiend, standing there, with a smile and scowl, to claim his own. So vivid was the expression, or so intense the minister’s perception of it (142)

Much of the marble coldness of Hester’s impression was to be attributed to the circumstance that her life had turned (148)

the minister discovered, by the faintness which came over him, that the last few moments had been a crisis of terrible anxiety; although his mind had made an involuntary effort to relieve itself by a kind of lurid playfulness. (137)

 

. It was due in part to all these causes, but still more to something else, that there seemed to be no longer any thing in Hester’s face for Love to dwell upon; nothing in Hester’s form, though majestic and statue-like, that Passion would ever dream of clasping in its embrace; nothing in Hester’s bosom, to make it ever again the pillow of Affection. (148)

He felt his limbs growing stiff with the unaccustomed chilliness of the night, and doubted whether he should be able to descend the steps of the scaffold. Morning would break, and find him there.(137)

 

And there stood the minister, with his hand over his heart; and Hester Prynne, with the embroidered letter glimmering on her bosom (140)

Whom, but the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, half frozen to death, overwhelmed with shame, and standing where Hester Prynne had stood! (138)

 

 

 

His nerve seemed absolutely destroyed. His moral force was abased into more than childish weakness. It grovelled helpless on the ground, even while his intellectual faculties retained their pristine strength, or had perhaps acquired a morbid energy, which disease only could have given them.(144)

 

 

The minister felt for the child’s other hand, and took it. The moment that he did so, there came what seemed a tumultuous rush of new life, other life than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart, and hurrying through all his veins, as if the mother and the child were communicating their vital warmth to his half-torpid system.(139)

 

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:06 AM (Answer #5)

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Chapter 14

“It was not so much that he had grown older; for though the traces of advanced life were visible, he wore his age well and seemed to retain with a wiry vigor and alertness.  But the former aspect of intellectual and studious man, calm and quiet, which was what she best remembered in him, had all together vanished, and then succeeded by an eager, searching, almost fierce, yet carefully guarded look.  It seemed to be his wish and purpose to mask this expression with a smile; but the latter play him false, and flickered over his visage, so derisively, that the spectator could see his blackness all the better for it.  Ever and anon, to, there came a glare of light out of his eyes; as in the old man’s soul were on fire, and kept on smoldering desperately within his breast, until by some casual puff of passion it had blown into a momentary flame.  This he repressed, as speedily s possible, and strove to look as if nothing of the kind had happened.” (153) For Chillingworth

 

“ ’What see you in my face,’ asked the physician, ‘that you look at it so earnestly?... Something that would make me weep; if there were any tears bitter enough for it,’ answered she.” (154) For Chillingworth

 

Chapter 15

“ His gray beard almost touched the ground, as he crept onward.” (158) For Chillingworth

 

“… why dost thou wear it on thy bosom?- and what does the minister keep his hand over his heart?” (162)  For Dimmesdale

Chapter 16

Dimmesdale

"And, mother, he has his hand over his heart! Is it because, when the minister wrote his name in the book, the Black Man set his mark in that place? But why does he not wear it outside his bosom, as thou dost, mother?" (169)

 

“He looked haggard and feeble, and betrayed a nerveless despondency in his air” (170).

 

“Mr. Dimmesdale exhibited no symptom of positive and vivacious suffering” (170).

 

Chapter 17

Dimmesdale

“But the frown of this pale, weak, sinful, and sorrow-stricken man was what Hester could not bear, and live!” (176).

 

“Shrinking within himself, and pressing his hand nervously against his heart--a gesture that had grown involuntary with him.” (177).

 

“In whose eyes a fitful light, kindled by her enthusiasm, flashed up and died away, "thou tellest of running a race to a man whose knees are tottering beneath him! I must die here!” (179).

 

Hester

“The horrible ugliness of this exposure of a sick and guilty heart to the very eye that would gloat over it!” (175).

 

Chillingworth

“Never was there a blacker or a fiercer frown than Hester now encountered. For the brief space that it lasted, it was a dark transfiguration. But his character had been so much enfeebled by suffering, that even its lower energies were incapable of more than a temporary struggle. He sank down on the ground, and buried his face in his hands.” (175).

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:07 AM (Answer #6)

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Chapter 18 and 19

“Arthur Dimmesdale gazed into Hester's face with a look in which hope and joy shone out, indeed, but with fear betwixt them, and a kind of horror at her boldness, who had spoken what he vaguely hinted at, but dared not speak.”p.179

 

“By another impulse, she took off the formal cap that confined her hair, and down it fell upon her shoulders, dark and rich, with at once a shadow and a light in its abundance, and imparting the charm of softness to her features. There played around her mouth, and beamed out of her eyes, a radiant and tender smile, that seemed gushing from the very heart of womanhood. A crimson flush was glowing on her cheek, that had been long so pale. Her sex, her youth, and the whole richness of her beauty, came back from what men call the irrevocable past, and clustered themselves with her maiden hope, and a happiness before unknown, within the magic circle of this hour.”p.182

 

“Hester turned again towards Pearl with a crimson blush upon her cheek, a conscious glance aside clergyman, and then a heavy sigh, while, even before she had time to speak, the blush yielded to a deadly pallor.”

 

“With these words she advanced to the margin of the brook, took up the scarlet letter, and fastened it again into her bosom.”190

 

“Hester next gathered up the heavy tresses of her hair and confined them beneath her cap. As if there were a withering spell in the sad letter, her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed like fading sunshine, and a gray shadow seemed to fall across her.”190

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:08 AM (Answer #7)

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Chapter 20 and 21

Hester

Dimmesdale

Chillingworth

Hester was clad in a garment of coarse gray cloth. (203)

“But he leaped across the plashy places, thrust himself through the clinging underbrush, climbed the ascent, plunged into the hollow, and overcame, in short, all the difficulties of the track, with an unweariable activity that astonished him. He could not but recall how feebly, and with what frequent pauses for breath, he had toiled over the same ground only two days before.” (194)

The latter was by far the most showy and gallant figure, so far as apparel went, anywhere to be seen among the multitude. He wore a profusion of ribbons on his garment, and gold lace on his hat, which was also encircled by a gold chain, and surmounted with a feather. There was a sword at his side, and a sword-cut on his forehead, which, by the arrangement of his hair, he seemed anxious rather to display than hide (209)

Her face, so long familiar to the townspeople, showed the marble quietude which they were accustomed to behold there. It was like a mask; or rather, like the frozen calmness of a dead woman’s features; (203)

That self was gone! Another man had returned out of the forest; a wiser one; with a knowledge of hidden mysteries which the simplicity of the former never could have reached. (200)

. A landsman could hardly have worn this garb and shown this face, and worn and shown them both with such a galliard air, without undergoing stern question before a magistrate, and probably incurring a fine or imprisonment, or perhaps an exhibition in the stocks. As regarded the shipmaster, however, all was looked upon as pertaining to the character, as to a fish his glistening scales. (209)

 

The minister stood, white and speechless, with one hand on the Hebrew Scriptures, and the other spread upon his breast. (200)

Roger Chillingworth himself, standing in the remotest corner of the market-place, and smiling on her; a smile which—across the wide and bustling square, and through all the talk and laughter, and various thoughts, moods, and interests of the crowd—conveyed secret and fearful meaning. (210-211)

 

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:08 AM (Answer #8)

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Chapter 22

FOR DIMMESDALE

“It was the observation of those who beheld him now, that never, since Mr. Dimmesdale first set his foot on the New England shore, had he exhibited such energy as was seen in the gait and air with which he kept his pace in the procession. There was no feebleness of step as at other times; his frame was not bent, nor did his hand rest ominously upon his heart. Yet, if the clergyman were rightly viewed, his strength seemed not of the body. It might be spiritual and imparted to him by angelical ministrations. It might be the exhilaration of that potent cordial which is distilled only in the furnace-glow of earnest and long-continued thought.” (213)

 

FOR DIMMESDALE

“There was his body, moving onward, and with an unaccustomed force. But where was his mind? Far and deep in its own region, busying itself, with preternatural activity, to marshal a procession of stately thoughts that were soon to issue thence; and so he saw nothing, heard nothing, knew nothing of what was around him; but the spiritual element took up the feeble frame and carried it along, unconscious of the burden, and converting it to spirit like itself.” (214)

 

FOR HESTER

“During all this time, Hester stood, statue-like, at the foot of the scaffold. If the minister's voice had not kept her there, there would, nevertheless, have been an inevitable magnetism in that spot, whence she dated the first hour of her life of ignominy.” (218).

Chapter 23

Dimmesdale:

“How feeble and pale he looked, amid all his triumph! The energy--or say, rather, the inspiration which had held him up, until he should have delivered the sacred message that had brought its own strength along with it from heaven--was withdrawn, now that it had so faithfully performed its office. The glow, which they had just before beheld burning on his cheek, was extinguished, like a flame that sinks down hopelessly among the late decaying embers. It seemed hardly the face of a man alive, with such a death-like hue: it was hardly a man with life in him, that tottered on his path so nervously, yet tottered, and did not fall!” (224).

 

“He tells you, that, with all its mysterious horror, it is but the shadow of what he bears on his own breast, and that even this, his own red stigma, is no more than the type of what has seared his inmost heart! Stand any here that question God's judgment on a sinner! Behold! Behold, a dreadful witness of it!"

With a convulsive motion, he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed! But it were irreverent to describe that revelation. For an instant, the gaze of the horror-stricken multitude was concentrated on the ghastly miracle; while the minister stood, with a flush of triumph in his face, as one who, in the crisis of acutest pain, had won a victory.” (228)

 

Chapter 24:

Chillingworth:

“Nothing was more remarkable than the change which took place, almost immediately after Mr. Dimmesdale's death, in the appearance and demeanour of the old man known as Roger Chillingworth.” (231).

 

 

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abeatty111 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted October 8, 2010 at 8:01 AM (Answer #9)

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Here are some quotes regarding Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingsworth

Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 Chapter 4

“why dost thou smile so at me?” … “Not thy soul,” he answered, with another smile. “No, not thine!” (72)

Chapter 5

“thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,-- at her, the child of honorable parents, -- at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman,-- at her, who had once been innocent, -- as the figure, the body, the reality of sin.”

 

“…no more smile with the household joy, nor mourn with the kindred sorrow;…” (page 78)

 

“…save by a flush of crimson that rose irrepressibly over her pale cheek…” (page 78)

 

“...did she feel the unnumerable throbs of anguish that had been so cunningly contrived for her by the undying, the ever-active sentence of the Puritan tribunal…”(pg 78)

 

“When strangers looked curiously at the scarlet letter… they branded it afresh into Hester’s soul…” (Pg 79)

 

“…she felt an eye—a human eye—upon the ignominious brand…” (Pg 79)

 

“…had she been of a softer moral and intellectual fibre…” (Pg 79)

 

“…that it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts…” (Pg 80)

 

“Sometimes the red infamy upon her breast would give a sympathetic throb” (Pg. 80)

 

Chapter 7:

“Hester looked, by way of humoring the child; and she saw that, owing to the peculiar effect of this convex mirror, the scarlet letter was represented in exaggerated and gigantic proportions, so as to be greatly the most prominent feature of her appearance.”   (Pg. 97, 1st paragraph)

 

 

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Chantelm | TA , Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted February 21, 2014 at 1:11 PM (Answer #10)

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Chapter 11; While thus suffering under bodily disease, and gnawed and tourtured by some black trouble of the soul, and given over to the machinations of his deadliest enemy, the Reverend Mr. Dimmsdale had achieved a brilliant popularity in his sacred office. He won it, indeed, in great part by his sorrows

Chillingworth:

“Even, at times, with horror and the bitterness of hatred--at the deformed figure of the old physician. His gestures, his gait, his grizzled beard, his slightest and most indifferent acts, the very fashion of his garments, were odious in the clergyman's sight; a token implicitly to be relied on of a deeper antipathy in the breast of the latter than he was willing to acknowledge to himself” (128).

Dimmesdale:

“He took himself to task for his bad sympathies in reference to Roger Chillingworth, disregarded the lesson that he should have drawn from them, and did his best to root them out. Unable to accomplish this, he nevertheless, as a matter of principle, continued his habits of social familiarity with the old man, and thus gave him constant opportunities for perfecting the purpose to which--poor forlorn creature that he was, and more wretched than his victim--the avenger had devoted himself” (128).

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